by Shawn Skipper - Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Photo Courtesy Idaho Department of Fish and Game
A mountain lion—any mountain lion—is a trophy all its own. But one Idaho hunter earned himself a truly unique big cat earlier this season. I know non-typical is ordinarily how we'd describe animals in the deer family, but when a cougar has teeth growing out of its head, how else can you describe it?
According to reports—and the photo above, which was provided by Idaho Fish and Game—a yearling cougar killed in Idaho on Dec. 30, 2015, possessed a previously never-before-seen deformity: teeth growing out of the top of its head. The young cat was killed near the Utah border, and a conservation officer called to check it in alerted state officials to the oddity. Per state law on all cat kills, the lion was temporarily turned over to Idaho Fish and Game for evaluation. All told, they've got no idea what lead to the deformity. Their first instinct—and mine, too—is that the cat absorbed a conjoined twin while still in the womb. It's something that's been seen before, both in the wild and among human beings, too.
Another theory the put forth by biologists was that the growth was a type of rare tumor that's capable of growing hair, teeth and bones. And no, that's not something out of a horror movie. It happens, and has been documented in people, too.
As it stands, though, no one's sure just what left this cat with an extra set of chompers. It certainly seemed to be doing just fine, despite its headgear. Though Idaho has asked for more time to study the carcass, it has currently been returned to the hunter, who I'm betting is about to surprise the heck out of his local taxidermist.
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