Forensic Scientists Spot a Deer Gnawing on Human Remains for the First Time Ever

   05.08.17

This is either the coolest or the most disturbing news you’ll read today.

In a world that relies on science to identify bodies and solve crimes, forensic scientists often times have to think outside the box in order to get the full picture of what’s going on. In fact, sometimes that even means leaving corpses outside to rot to better learn what happens during and after decomposition.

But at the 26-acre Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF) in San Marcos, Texas, experts caught something on camera that flips everything we thought we knew about a certain species upside down.

When researchers left a body in a wooded area that’s part of FARF, they were hoping to learn more about scavengers and the marks they leave on human remains. Instead, they got a visit from an animal nobody has ever seen picking at a corpse.

In Texas, it’s not at all uncommon to see foxes, turkey vultures, raccoons, and coyotes battle it out to clean a set of bones, but after a few months, someone else pulled up a seat to the table – a young whitetail deer.

Human Remains
Image courtesy Journal of Forensic Sciences

Photos taken by trail cameras reveal a whitetail deer standing over the skeleton gnawing on a human rib bone. It happened again just a week later, when the camera caught a deer with another rib bone hanging out of its mouth like a cigar. It was not clear whether it was the same deer in both instances.

Human Remains
Image courtesy Journal of Forensic Sciences

According to Popular Science, this is the first known evidence of a deer acting like a scavenger chewing on human bones, and the authors published their findings in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen deer acquire a taste for blood. Previously, these animals have been seen eating fish, bats, even dead rabbits. But the significance of a deer chowing on human flesh, trumps all of those by a mile.

 

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