Subject: Re: Dart-Thornton (was Australian

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Wed Jun 26 01:52:06 EDT 2002

--- Ven <vendersleighc at> wrote:
> Kathryn wrote 
> On Mon, Jun 24, 2002 at 11:01:04AM -0600, Melissa
> Proffitt wrote:
> > I was wondering if perhaps an Australian 
> unicorn might look different from
> > the "traditional" image.  Sort of the way 
> Oriental dragons are different
> > from Occidental ones.  (Okay, some of that is 
> because they come from
> > different traditions, different mythologies, 
> but still.)  Or an African
> > unicorn.  I could easily picture an author 
> digging right down to the roots
> > of what makes a unicorn a unicorn, and 
> rebuilding it from those foundations
> > in the shape of some other country or climate. 
> I don't know how
> > well-accepted it would be--some people are very
> picky about their fantasy
> > settings--but it might be an interesting 
> change.
> Kathryn
> <Wow, what an interesting idea!>
> It is indeed an excellent idea
> Kathryn
> <Tossing some thoughts....
> One could have a black unicorn, like the black 
> swans, but I think that
> would be rather inauspicious.
> Or the Australian Unicorn could be something of 
> surface resemblance,
> like the Australian Magpie which, while it looks 
> like a European Magpie
> in that it's black and white, has quite different
> behaviour (and the
> most beeaaautiful song, which I gather the 
> European Magpie does not).
> So, it could be that the deceptively Australian 
> Unicorn could have
> completely different properties like, er, singing
> like Sirens or
> something... ah but that would make it a bit too 
> like the Kelpie,
> wouldn't it...?>
> Perhaps it is a pouched mammal ......... little
> unicorn joeys would be way cute and just imagine
> looking after an orphaned one (I'm getting lots
> of ideas here........).
> Another way of looking at this is that the
> Australian unicorn could be something which is
> not immediately recognisable as a unicorn.

I have trouble with Aussie unicorns. The closest
Aussie equivent to a horse was the extinct diprotodon,
which would produce a rather rinocerous looking
unicorn (but undoubtably much lazier). For brumby
origins see below. I can see an Australian dragon
working - it could even be the rainbow serpent. I
think patricia Wrightson was very successful in
creating authentic Australian creatures. I know places
where I'm sure there's a nargun.

> the kookuburra (there's a Witch Week reference
> there), to my European eyes it's an absurd brash
> comedy bird. Then, last year, I found out it's
> related to the kingfisher -- and the resemblance
> it's obvious once you know, but the kingfisher is
> a breathtakingly beautiful little killer and the
> kookuburra is a, well, I already said.
If you've ever seen a Kookuburra grab a snake you'd
know they are pretty good killers too. They can be
pretty good at snatching a sausage out of a hand at a
barbecue as well. 
> <But if we're talking building from roots,
> then... 
> say that the Unicorns
> came over with the Brumbies, and walk in the 
> wilds like they do, nimble
> and wild, the colour of sandstone and heat-haze, 
> seen, but not seen, in
> the dappled shade of the trees...>
> That is so cool. Those silver brumbie books
> (which used to make me cry buckets) were the
> first thing I thought of when I read the original
> quote. And I would just like to mention zebra
> unicorns and (spelling?) Pryzwalski's horse
> unicorns. 

As the late Stephen j gould pointed to a zoologist a
horse is a variety of zebra, not the reverse. I can't
realy see an Australian unicorn working, but then I
never grew up on Silver brumby stories (did you see
that Elyne Mitchell died recently?)

Jon Noble

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