The Bjarndýrakóngur (Icelandic: "bear king") is an Icelandic one-horned polar bear. It is larger than its kin, has red cheeks and a single amber horn on its forehead that glows at night. It is presumed to result from a union between a female polar bear and either a walrus or a bull. Normally Iceland is devoid of bears, but sometimes a stray animal visits the island.

The last known sighting happened in XVIII century on the island of Grímsey. Just before a Whitsun church service, about a dozen polar bears led by the Bjarndýrakóngur was seen passing to the south. When the procession reached the crowd of parishioners, the priest bowed to its leader; the Bjarndýrakóngur in turn returned the bow. As the bears headed into the distance, the last in the line attacked and ate a passing sheep. Not approving of this transgression, the Bjarndýrakóngur angrily pierced the perpetrator with its horn. Afterwards, the bears headed off into the sea and disappeared from view.


  • Jón Árnason. Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og ævintýri. vol 4. p. 3

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