In April of 2013 Journal of the Bizarre featured an in-depth analysis of the strange "unicorn" skull found in a shallow cave in Union County, Pennsylvania. (read the original story about the skull here)
When we learned of this discovery, we dropped everything and went to see the unusual specimen for ourselves. The specimen appears to be the skull of a young male deer with an 8-inch bony projection protruding from the frontal bone. The parietal bone is missing, and oddly appears to have been removed with surgical precision with a sharp object, rather than broken off. The appearance of the incision led us to believe that this procedure was done centuries ago, perhaps as part of some Native American ritual.
We spent a great deal of time examining the antler. Horns and antlers are two very different structures; horns are composed of keratin, while antlers are composed of bone. The specimen we examined undoubtedly has a bony growth protruding from the skull.
This is clearly evidenced by examining the tip of the specimen's antler. The surface layer of bone has chipped away, revealing the underlying lamellar bone. When antlers reach the end of the growing process, the outer layer becomes compact bone, while the centers are filled with coarse and spongy lamellar bone and marrow. This detail of antler anatomy is virtually impossible to replicate by a hoaxer, and adds an important touch of authenticity to the "unicorn" specimen.
Another crucial detail exhibited by the unicorn specimen is the smooth polished look of the antler's mid-shaft. The velvet which covers the surface of an antler is removed by the animal rubbing its antler against vegetation. This is what gives them the smooth, polished look. A close examination of the unicorn's antler reveals that the "shine" doesn't extend all the way to the base of the antler or to the back of the antler; it is limited to the parts of the antler which would've been most likely to come into contact with vegetation.
To us, this indicated an authentic specimen (although an authentic specimen of what, we couldn't say). We doubted that any hoaxer would take these tiny details into consideration, such as the lamellar bone beneath the surface of the antler, the rub marks on the antler exactly where they should be, the seamless transition between skull and the unicorn's "horn"-- if some hoaxer had just glued a horn onto a skull, this would have been evident upon a close examination. We used an ultra-high resolution camera to photograph the find, and the pictures, even when magnified, do not indicate any evidence of hoaxery.
And now, nearly 4 years after the skull was found, the owner has contacted us and informed us that he wants to sell the specimen. According to the seller, experts who have examined the specimen are stumped. "It's just the skull of a deer who, by some weird quirk of fate, happened to grow a horn," he explained.
At any rate, we have agreed to act on the seller's behalf in his quest to sell the strange item. Offers can be made by emailing Anna at annanewburg [at] yahoo [dot] com.
Don't ask us about a price. This is the first damned unicorn skull we've ever seen, much less sold, and it's not like Beckett's or Sotheby's publishes an annual price guide on unicorn skulls. Just make us an offer.