Inspired by this funny satire of mouse genomics research (“Tedious scientists hail uninspiring mouse genome breakthrough“), I dug up this funny article in a newsletter from the genome center at which I work:
30x sequencing of Unicornos
Typically the stuff of legends, the [sequencing center] will sequence DNA from the genus Unicornos to high coverage. Tracing the origin of the unicorn points to a 4th century B.C. Greek doctor named Ctesias who most likely fused details of multiple creatures to create the unicorn from the many tales he heard from Indian travelers in Persia. During that era it was common for stories to travel great distances by word of mouth, and as Artistotle argued, when the tale made its way to him, the single-horned, silvery being was no more absurd to imagine than a giraffe or an elephant. Medieval knowledge of the beast stemmed from biblical and ancient sources, and the creature was variously represented as a kind of wild ass, goat or horse. Some medieval Europeans believed narwhal tusks to be the horns from the legendary unicorn. Our analysis, particularly in comparison with the recently completed horse genome, may help scientists place the unicorn on the evolutionary Tree of Life.