The Natural History of Carnivorism in Unicorns
This fictional research report describes the origins, diet, and behavior of the carnivorous unicorn.
3. Digestion and Bacteriologic Characteristics
Equines are so ill equipped to digest animal protein, the possibility of unicorn carnivorism was dismissed until recently as a fairy tale. Wild horse herds show no interest in consuming meat, living on a diet of grasses, herbs, twigs and leaves. The digestion of vegetable matter requires slow bacterial action (fermentation) in order to extract nutrition. In addition, the structure of the horse’s digestive organs requires a fibrous bulk of vegetation to push matter through the digestive system.
Neither the slow acting digestion nor the requirement for fiber is suited to a meat-based diet, which requires both a constant bacterial population and increased muscular support to impel matter from ingestion to excretion.
3.1. Broad Bacteriological Analysis
After the 2009 confirmation of unicorn carnivorism, interest in the specific bacteriology of horses and unicorns grew. Bacterial colonies prevalent in the different herds demonstrated close alignment with the bacterial population of the digestive organs eaten by the unicorns. Bacterial specimens were extracted from upper and lower digestive organs during veterinary examination of modern unicorns from all geographies.
Table 1 shows that unicorn populations in every geography have distinctly different bacteriological profiles from their equine cousins. The differences between captive unicorns and domesticated horses cannot be due to differences in diet, nor to differences in geography.
Table 2 shows much greater similarities between unicorns and their local carnivores than similarities between the other equines in the same geographies.
Table 3 compares bacterial flora across unicorn herds. Note that the Yakut data only indicates similarity for portions of the ancient bacterial sample which could be identified. Much of the excavated sample was unusable for this research.
Because the bacterial colonies found in the stomachs and intestines of each unicorn herd were almost identical to the meat-digesting bacteria found in the digestive systems of carnivores local to each herd, unicorns are capable of carnivorous digestion. The data is strong enough to indicate the finding even without the observation of the behavior.
3.2. Genetic sequencing of bacteriological samples
There is one common bacterial strain found in all three modern geographies, even though they were so geographically separated. The bacterium is genetically different from the bacteria found in other carnivores, and never found in other equines. By itself, this evidence is enough to demonstrate that carnivorous behavior began prior to unicorn diaspora.
But our research probed deeper. With genetic sequencing, our program compared this bacterial strain with the remains of the ancient Yakut unicorn herd. Even though the decay was quite advanced, there were unmistakable similarities in fragments of the genetic sequence.
With these two pieces of data, the origin of the unicorn is confirmed: The natural history of the unicorn, and their carnivorous diet, began in Yakut, Siberia, around six thousand years ago.
4. Documentation of unicorn diaspora
The following report was transcribed from a letter stored with the papers of a noble court in the Northern Isles. Though the source document is unattributed, Hegel and Watts group it with similar reports from the farmer tasked with tracking the wild horse herds and improving the Lord’s stock, usually by live capture of promising horses to be bred into the bloodline.
Available from the publisher. First published May 28, 2012 by Mad Scientist Journal. Illustration by Katie Nyborg, whose art, plus information regarding hiring her, can be found at http://katiedoesartthings.tumblr.com/