I spotted this rather battered old unicorn in a library garden yesterday. I presume it's one of the Scottish varieties of unicorn, a heraldic trope driven down from the glens. Until recently I hadn't properly noticed the extent to which unicorns were part of Scottish heraldry. They are all over the place in stone, jewelry, seals and paintings. A fantasy animal for a fantasy country I suppose. I've been blind.
Fortunately we're not the only country to be as silly and screwed up as this. Many others (bigger, greater) have gone down a similar path, along with using dragons, griffins, giant worms and so on. What better a device than to have a mystical and non-existent animal to represent you as your beloved country's emblem?
The unicorn also seems to be mentioned, in poor translations of the Bible and Quran, giving it some sort of religious significance and credibility. Why not just go for Micky Mouse or Smaug for a more contemporary update ? I like history but one of things you quickly learn from it is that very many of the decision makers in the past were pretty batty or (to their credit) they may just had a strong sense of fun and irony and they've fooled us all.
P.S. Dear USA, are eagles real or mythical?