A hideously deformed mountain lion found in Idaho has spurred debate, with researchers being so far unable to determine why the animal had a separate set of fangs on its forehead.
The young creature had been roaming an area close to Weston, a small city situated around 12 miles southeast of the Franklin County seat, Preston.
The fearsome looking puma had attempted to attack a local’s dog, and on December 30 a hunter, whose identity hasn’t been released to the public, succeeded in fatally shooting it.
Upon harvesting it, the hunter was shocked to discover that the mountain lion had several teeth and whiskers growing out of the left portion of its forehead.
Understanding the significance of his find, the man reached out to a nature conservation officer, who immediately took a photograph of the monstrous-looking cougar, and submitted it to the Southeast Regional Office of the Idaho Fish and Game Department, located in Pocatello.
That however didn’t help dispel the mystery surrounding the mountain lion’s gruesome appearance, and experts such as Zack Lockyer are still at a loss, trying to reveal the source of the physical deformity.
There are a few speculations regarding the origins of this secondary set of fangs and whiskers, but so far none of them has received unanimous support from biologists.
For instance, one theory suggests that the animal may have sustained severe trauma to its head, and during the recovery process its jaw tissue and its teeth eventually grew back, but in a completely abnormal pattern.
This explanation seems the most improbable nevertheless, given the fact that the cougar’s primary teeth look completely normal and no evidence of injury can be detected when analyzing the animal’s snout.
Another more likely supposition is that the extra pair of fangs ad whiskers may have come from a co-twin demise. Basically, the puma’s mother was supposed to deliver two cubs, but one fetus died in the uterus, and its tissue was eventually assimilated by its developing sibling.
As a result, when this surviving baby animal was born, it still had remnants pertaining to its deceased twin.
A third possibility is that the mountain lion suffered from teratoma, a type of tumor which is usually present right from birth, and can develop its own organs or tissues.
In most of the cases, such abnormal growths include hair, bones or teeth, but in exceptional circumstances they can even feature other limbs, eyes or an actual torso.
Teratomas tend to be a highly rare occurrence among humans and most animal species, although they have been identified more frequently among horses and dogs.
It’s still unclear which theory is the valid one, and it may be that the answer will never be revealed. Apparently, the man who caught the cougar wishes to turn the slaughtered animal into a hunting trophy, and has already enlisted the help of a taxidermist.
Representatives of the Idaho Fish and Game Department are now trying to contact him and convince him to allow the creature to be more thoroughly tested, using an x-ray machine and other medical equipment. If such efforts are unsuccessful, the source of the mountain lion’s eerie look will never be traced.
Image Source: WCHSTV