I have a demon character with horns. Can horns break? If so, is it painful? can it heal / grow out? Thanks, and love your blog!
An excellent question my friend. It depends on what sort of horns we’re talking about.
Animals with true horns, which are mostly ruminants like the ram and friends, which is also the classical demon look, have a core of living bone in the center of the horn. The outer layer is composed of thick keratin, but it is the shape of the living bone core that dictates the shape, size and direction of the horns. The living bone core is often much smaller than the keratin component.
The keratin has no nerves and little blood supply. The living bone core has a whole bunch of nerves, an impressive blood supply (it is bone after all) and if you break the horn too close to the skull then you will also have a big whopping hole into the frontal sinus.
This would be at least as painful as breaking one of your bones.
Horns can certainly heal, but they often heal in a not quite right manner. If you haven’t completely fractured off the living bone then the shape template for the new horn will be different. If your character has lost the living bone core, but still retains the germinal layer of cells around the base, then they can develop scurs.
A scur is like a remnant horn growing without a template. They often occur when de-horning hasn’t quite been done right or after trauma. They have an unpredictable shape, can grow in any direction, and are frankly quite annoying.
These are often tipped (cutting off a portion near the end) and sometimes have no blood supply. They have no feeling, and can twist around to grow into other areas of the animal’s head.
There are other structures animals have which we often refer to as ‘horns’, even though they’re not true horns like these.
Rhinos do not have a living bone core in their horn. You can cut off parts of these horns, they’re made of keratin and can be thought of similar to a very fancy finger nail.
But uh, don’t be tempted to do it like the poachers do it, where they cut a straight line including both horns and part of the skull. That is going to be the equivalent of fracturing a true horn at the base and entering a sinus (or nasal cavity in this case). I’m not posting those pictures on here.
But lastly, another anatomical feature we humans sometimes think of as ‘horns’ are antlers.
Antlers are dead bone with no covering when mature. They are shed every year. When they are mature they have no feeling and no blood supply except at the very base. While they are growing they have a good blood supply, but when mature they are inert. Antlers don’t grow bigger as such, they are shed each year and regrow, sometimes into a bigger or more pronged shape, depending on the species.
So take your pick. I don’t know which sort of horns your demon has, but I hope that’s answered your question.