HORN, ANIMAL (a common Teutonic word, cognate with Lat. cornu; cf. Gr. Ktpas). The weapons which project from the heads of various species of animals, constituting what are known as horns, embrace substances which are, in their anatomical structure and chemical composition, quite distinct from each other; and although in commerce also they are known indiscriminately as horn, their uses are altogether dissimilar. These differences in structure and properties were thus indicated by Sir R. Owen: " The weapons to which the term horn is properly or technically applied consist of very different substances, and belong to two organic systems, as distinct from each other as both are from the teeth. Thus the horns of deer consist of bone, and are processes of the frontal bone; those of the giraffe are independent bones or ' epiphyses ' covered by hairy skin; those of oxen, sheep and antelopes are ' apophyses ' of the frontal bone, covered by the corium and by a sheath of true horny material; those of the prong-horned antelope consist at their basis of bony processes covered by hairy skin, and are covered by horny sheaths in the rest of their extent. They thus combine the character of those of the giraffe and ordinary antelope, together with the expanded and branched form of the antlers of deer. Only the horns of the rhinoceros are composed wholly of horny matter, and this is disposed in longitudinal fibres, so that the horns seem rather to consist of coarse bristles compactly matted together in the form of a more or less elongated sub-compressed cone." True horny matter is really a modified form of epidermic tissue, and consists of the albuminoid " keratin." It forms, not only the horns of the ox tribe, but also the hoofs, claws or nails of animals generally, the carapace of the tortoises and the armadilloes, the scales of the pangolin, porcupine quills, and birds' feathers, etc.
Horn is employed in the manufacture of combs, buttons, the handles of walking-sticks, umbrellas, and knives, drinking-cups, spoons of various kinds, snuff-boxes, etc. In former times it was applied to several uses for which it is no longer required, although such applications have left their traces in the language. Thus the musical instruments and fog signals known as horns indicate their descent from earlier and simpler forms of apparatus made from horn. In the same way powder-horns were spoken of long after they ceased to be made of that substance; to a small extent lanterns still continue to be " glazed " with thin transparent plates of horn.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)