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The narwhal tusk is probably one of the most unusual creatures of the whale family. An animal of legend and myth, the narwhal is undoubtedly the basis for the unicorn legend.
Narwhals are small whales distributed in the artic waters of the northwestern Atlantic. Their tusk is actually a tooth growing forward and through the upper lip, spiralling and tapering as it grows to a length of up to nine feet. The purpose of the tusk has been the subject of much speculation from ice breaking and fish spearing to ornamentation. Narwhals have been observed stirring up sand on the ocean floor, but it is now believed that the primary use of the tusk is aggressive behaviour by adult males.
During the Middle Ages, the narwhal tusk was believed to be a unicorn horn. Since the unicorn was believed to render harmless poison, a drinking cup made from a narwhal tusk unicorn horn was a very precious and expensive object.