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An alpenhorn is a horn that grows on a uni-horned, goat-like animal, known as an alpen, that roams only the Swiss Alps.

The alpenhorn is a rather unique type of horn for a couple of reasons. First, as stated, alpens have only a single horn, but that’s not the unique part. Unlike other uni-horned animals, which usually grow their horns on the top of their heads, or possibly on their foreheads, the alpen’s horn grows out of its left cheek, about halfway between the vertical centreline of its face (or, rather where the centerline would be if, indeed, it were there) and its left ear and slightly below the level of its nose.

This arrangement is, to say the least, rather inconvenient for the poor alpen. An alpenhorn can grow to be quite large and heavy. As a result, an adult alpen often gets a crick in its neck as a result of them having to fight against the weight of the alpenhorn to keep its head upright, rather than tilted sharply to the left.

The second thing that is unique about the alpenhorn relative to other horns in the animal kingdom is that it is hollow, has a small opening at its tip, and is open into the mouth cavity at its base.

As a result of this construction, the alpen can close its lips and blow out through it’s alpenhorn, creating a loud, long, lugubrious sound that frequently annoys the living hell out of hikers—human and otherwise—in the Swiss Alps. Fortunately, alpens are quite rare. And they are much more often heard than seen. Nevertheless, most people would rather that the be both seen and heard much, much, much less frequently.

Ecological note: Alpens are in danger of extinction as they are extensively hunted by heartless, greedy people who cut off the alpenhorn, discard the alpen carcass, and use the detached alpenhorn in cough drop commercials. in an attempt to allow the alpen population to revive, some countries have banned the importation of alpenhorns unless it can be proved that the alpenhorn either came from an alpen that died of natural causes or was taken from an animal that was hunted before the importation ban came into effect.

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