Looking like a bizarre beast of ancient Greek lore, this cougar was discovered by Idaho’s hunting community. Shot by an anonymous hunter in Weston just southeast of Idaho last week, the cougar/mountain lion was then inspected by a conservation officer with the Idaho Fish and Game’s Southeast Regional Office in Pocatello. Surprising and confounding the staff, the photo appears to illustrate horn-like teeth formed from the hard tissue on the cougar’s forehead. Idaho Fish and Game handed off the image to their vet colleagues as well as other local wildlife experts in order to finally identify just what was going on with this creature.
While there’s no clear consensus yet, they did share a few ideas. One indicates that it could be a teratoma. Teratomas are rare tumors that develop a disgusting growth which is capable of containing teeth, hair and bones. Sometimes, they may even comprise of limbs or organs. It is important to keep in mind that such tumors are quite rare in humans. However, there are a handful of isolated examples in the animal community in dogs, horses and other mammals.
Another theory suggests that it could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that may have died in the womb and subsequently been absorbed by the cougar. But last of all, some believe it to be the result of an injury to the mountain lion’s teeth or jaw that happened to heal strangely. Local wildlife biologist, Zach Lockyer told Idaho State Journal that this was the least likely possibility since the image does not indicate any signs of injury or jaw trauma.
He added, “It’s a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo. We may never know why those teeth are there.” As of now, the hunter still has possession of the cougar. He plans to have the carcass stuffed and preserved by a taxidermist. Idaho Fish and Game does continue to hope for a possible post-mortem and x-rays to offer more sound conclusions.
Despite all of the intrigue surrounding these kings of the deep, no one has ever actually managed to...