'Unicorn' Deer Spotted in Italy
Similar anomalies may have inspired myths, experts say
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2008 6:02 PM CDT
A one-year-old Roe Deer - nicknamed "Unicorn'' - in an Italian nature preserve is believed to have been born with a genetic flaw; his twin has two horns.    (AP Photo/Center of Natural Sciences)
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(Newser) – A deer with a single horn in the center of its head has been spotted in an Italian nature preserve, triggering speculation that such anomalies may have helped give rise to unicorn myths, the AP reports. Experts say the year-old deer, born in captivity and nicknamed “Unicorn,” likely has a genetic flaw or experienced trauma early in its life.    

Deer with just one antler are unusual but not unheard-of; it's the horn's central position that makes it rare. "This is fantasy becoming reality," said a park official at Italy's Center of Natural Sciences in Prato. "This shows that even in past times, there could have been animals with this anomaly. It's not like they dreamed it up."