Biologists and state officials alike were shocked to see a mountain lion with a truly bizarre deformity on the back of its head.
When an Idaho resident shot this mountain lion, he didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. When he got closer to investigate, however, he made a discovery that continues to baffle state fish and game officials and biologists alike.
According to a report from Discovery News, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has confirmed that a young male mountain lion, which was taken in accordance with state law south of the town of Preston had a second full set of fangs growing from the back of its head.
Researchers are still unclear as to what may have caused the bizarre deformity. The growth appears to be the beginnings of another snout, complete with a small set of whiskers. A landowner witnessed the mountain lion attacking his neighbor’s pet dog, so he chased it into the hills and shot it. The hunter’s license was valid, and he reported the taking to the state conservation office as per local hunting laws.
Theories as to what may have caused the strange deformity vary, but biologists working with the Idaho Fish and Game service believe that the strange growth could stem from a conjoined twin that failed to develop fully in the womb. The surviving sibling likely absorbed the tissues of the other, leaving only the remnants of a snout behind.
Other researchers believe the growth could be a teratoma tumor, made up of the same tissues that comprise teeth, hair, and sometimes even fingers and toes. These tumors are not common, but they have been witnessed before in both humans and animals.
Sick or injured animals will often seek out easier prey targets, which is likely the reason the homeowner spotted the mountain lion in the first place. It is a wonder that the cat was able to survive into young adulthood, and it remains unclear as to whether or not it would have survived much longer in the wild.
A press release from the Idaho Fish and Game Department regarding the deformed mountain lion can be found here.