Scientists Spot Elusive Fanged Deer

Kashmir musk deer identified in Afghanistan for first time since 1948
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2014 4:54 PM CDT
Afghanistan Still Has Deer With Fangs
A musk deer shows off its fangs.   (Julie Larsen Maher ? WCS)

A deer with fangs: It sounds made-up, and scientists hadn't seen one in Afghanistan since 1948. But researchers have found that the musk deer still exists in the country's Nuristan Province. In fact, they've spotted the creatures five times: a male three times, a female and a juvenile once, and finally, a female hanging out alone. But the deer didn't make it easy for scientists working with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Instead, the animals were "cryptic, difficult to spot, and could not be photographed," as a press release puts it.

The animals may look scary, but they're only two feet tall, Discovery reports. Males use their fangs to fight when they're looking to mate. "Musk deer are one of Afghanistan's living treasures," says a co-author of a study on the findings, calling the species "the natural heritage of this struggling nation." The endangered animals are victims of poaching: On the black market, their scent glands can go for more than $20,000 per pound, the Washington Post reports, noting, via National Geographic, that a secretion from the glands, known as musk, has been used in perfumes and medicines for some 5,000 years. (Another notable animal discovery had one scientist saying he hit the "jackpot.")

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