Protogaea, cap. 35Edit

Latin originalEdit

Gottfried Leibniz unicorn skeleton

Cum cornua Monocerotis, quibus passim superbiebant olim conditoria rerum peregrinarum, & nunc quoque plebeii oculi in stuporem dantur, a piscibus Septentrionalis Oceani esse demonstrarit Bartolinus, credere fas est, vnicornu fossile, quod nostrae quoque regiones praebent, eiusdem originis fuisse. Diffimulare tamen non oportet, Monocerotem quadrupedem equi magnitudine reperiri apud Abyssinos, si credimus Hieronymo Lupo & Balthasari Tellesio, Lusitanis. Terrestris quoque animalis speciem magis referebat sceleton, in vicini nobis Quedlinburgi monte Zeunikenberga intra rupem anno saeculi sexagesimo tertio, cum calcis materia effoderetur detectum. Testis rei est Otto Gerikius, Magdeburgensis consul, qui nostram aetatem nouis inuentis illustrauit, primusque mortalium Antliam reperit, per quam vasis aër educitur, miraque spectacula ab inuentore in Comitiis Ratisbonensibus Anni 1653. coram Caesare edita sunt; qua deinde a Roberto quoque Boilio, Anglo, Corkiorum in Hibernia Cornitis fratre, pro summo Illustriss. Viri ingenio mirifice exculta, nouo experimentorum thesauro locuplerati sumus. Gerikius igitur libro de vacuo edito, per occasionem narrat, repertum sceleton vnicornis in posteriore corporis parte, vt bruta solent, reclinatum, capite vero sursum leuato, ante frontem gerens longe extensum cornu quinque fere vlnarum, crassitie cruris humani, sed proportione quadam decrescens. Ignorantia fossorum contritum particulatimque extractum est, postremo cornu cum capite & aliquibus costis, & spina dorsi atque ossibus Principi Abbatissae loci allata fuere. Eadem ad me perscripta sunt; additaque est figura, quam subiicere non alienum erit.

English translation (Lloyd Strickland, 2003)Edit

Since Gaspard Bartholin has demonstrated that the horns of the unicorn, of which repositories of strange things everywhere were once so proud, and even today bring the eyes of the common man into stupor, are from the fish of the northern ocean, it is right to believe that the unicorn fossil, which our regions also offer, is of the same origin. But we must not ignore that a quadruped unicorn with the size of a horse is to be found in Abyssinia, if we believe Jerome Lobo and Balthasar Tellez. Likewise the skeleton found in the rock in the vicinity of Quedlinburg near Mount Zeunikenberg, in the 63rd year of this century, excavated together with chalk, more nearly resembled the appearance of a terrestrial animal. Otto von Gericke, mayor of Magdeburg, is a witness of the fact; he has adorned our age with his new inventions, and was the first man to invent a pneumatic pump, by which air was drawn from vessels, and wonderful things were demonstrated by this inventor in the assembly of Ratisbonne in the year 1653, in the presence of the Emperor; which afterwards were even wonderfully improved upon by the Englishman Robert Boyle, the highest of men, brother of the Count of Cork in Ireland, who enriched us with a new treasure of experiments. Consequently Gericke takes the opportunity to relate in his published book on the vacuum that the unicorn skeleton was found reclined on the back part of the body, as beasts are accustomed, though the head was raised up, the forehead bearing a long extended horn almost five forearms in length, and as thick as a human leg, but decreasing proportionally. It was crushed and extracted in small parts due to the ignorance of the excavators, though finally the horn with the head and some ribs, and the backbone together with other bones were brought to the Abbess of the region. The same things have been reported to me, and a figure is added, which will not be unworthy to append.


Otto von Guericke reconstructed the skeleton, which he believed to belong to the unicorn, but later turned out to consist of bones of a woolly rhinoceros, a mammoth and a narwhal.

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