In case you are unsure what you are looking at, teeth seem to be growing out of the side of this mountain lion’s head. According to the Idaho State Journal, this yearling cougar was harvested by a hunter near Weston, Idaho last week and photos were sent to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for identification. The problem is, biologists are just as confused over what exactly caused the deformity.
“It has all of us scratching our heads,” wildlife biologist Zach Lockyer told the Journal. “It’s a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo.”
They had never seen anything like it, but they do have a few theories. The first is that the teeth could be the result of a rare tumor called a teratoma, which can contain hair, bones, or teeth. In extreme situations, teratomas have even been reported to contain complex structures such as eyes or limbs. Teratomas are present from birth.
Another theory is that the teeth may be the remnants of a conjoined twin that was absorbed by the mountain lion while still in the womb. This usually occurs when a twin embryo does not fully separate, allowing one of the twins to grow at the expense of the other. Unlike true conjoined twins, this type of development reduces the other twin to a mere vestigial body part.
The third theory, but the least likely, is that the cougar may have injured its jaw in such an extreme way that its teeth started growing abnormally. However, judging from the pictures of the animal, that does not seem to be the case.
In any event, biologists will have to inspect the animal in person before any conclusions will be made. The department is urging the hunter to bring the animal in for an autopsy and x-ray screening.
What do you think caused it? Have you see anything like this before?
Special thanks to Zak F for bringing our attention to this.
Images from Imgur