A young male mountain lion legally shot by a hunter in Idaho was found with a bizarre growth: A full set of fangs and whiskers sprouting out of the side of its head. Biologists from the state's Department of Fish and Game suggest the monstrous growth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb, or possibly a kind of rare tumor.
The cougar was brought to the department's attention after a landowner who saw it attacking a neighbor's dog in Idaho, shot it. As required by law, the licensed hunter reported it to conservation officials, who came to check the animal's body and discovered the abnormal deformity, according to BBC.
The Idaho Fish and Game cannot definitively explain why this abnormality developed on this mountain lion, but did offer some theories as to why teeth and whiskers were apparently growing out of its head.
"It is possible that the teeth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was absorbed into the other fetus," the Department wrote in a news release. "It is also possible that deformity was a teratoma tumor. These kinds of tumors are composed of tissue from which teeth, hair, and even fingers and toes can develop. They are rare in humans and animals. Biologists from the southeast region of Idaho Fish and Game have never seen anything like this particular deformity before."
Mountain lions, large cats with tawny or grayish coats, can weigh as much as 200 pounds. They are a native game species of Idaho, but rarely seen in the wild. Licensed hunters are allowed to harvest only one lion each year during certain seasons. Generally, mountain lions prey on deer, elk, moose; however, they are known to attack domesticated pets and livestock as well.
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