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It is likely that the legend of the unicorn originated from sightings of narwhals. These members of the dolphin family display a “horn” on their front, which is actually a tooth. Narwhals have two teeth, both located in the upper jaw. In females, the teeth do not grow, while in males, only the left tooth grows and spirals out of the snout, reaching lengths of up to three meters.

The tusk is primarily used for competing with females, as the male with the longest tusk wins the female in dispute. It is common to find scars on the heads of males, which may be the result of fights. The tusk is almost hollow, and it is estimated that one in every three tusks breaks.

Females and young narwhals live in separate groups from males. They have a grayish color on their backs with brown spots, a white belly, and dark-colored pectoral fins, which tend to lighten with age. Adult males can reach lengths of up to six meters, not including the tusk. They inhabit the Arctic and have been hunted for centuries by Inuit Eskimos, who use their meat and blubber as a food source.

Narwhals are relatively understudied and therefore not well-known. In fact, many still classify them as small whales, even though they are actually dolphins. The reason for this is that it is not easy to encounter a narwhal at sea; they do not usually approach boats, and it is uncommon to see them near the coast. It is not surprising, then, that finding a unicorn would be extremely difficult.

“One cannot defend what they do not love, and one cannot love what they do not know.”