'Unicorn Deer' Found on 2 Continents

Hunters shoot unusual creatures in Slovenia, Washington state
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2014 7:05 AM CST
'Unicorn Deer' Found on 2 Continents
A few years ago, this roe deer—nicknamed "Unicorn''—was found living in an Italian nature preserve.   (AP)

You can start believing in magic again, because not only are fanged deer real, it turns out unicorns are, too. Well, sort of. In August, a hunter shot an elderly roe deer bearing a single, centered antler in the forests of Slovenia, reports National Geographic. It's not uncommon to find deer with just a "spike"—what a remaining antler is called after one is lost; even an injury to a buck's hind leg can cause an abnormality. But in this case, both antlers had fused into one, giving a unicorn-like appearance. This was a first for scientist Boštjan Pokorny, who confirmed the roe deer's fantastical and "untypical" deformity, which National Geographic notes was probably caused by an injury sustained as the antlers were forming, which is an annual occurrence.

The roe deer lived to be quite old and was a little pudgy, leading Pokorny to infer his unusual deformity didn't hold him back in life. Meanwhile, on another continent, another hunter also recently bagged a "unicorn deer." KULR reports Amy Calkins shot what she thought was her first buck in Washington state in mid-October—except it turned out to be a doe with a single antler. Calkins posted photos on Facebook of the deer and its four teats, and she says she later learned that a hormone imbalance caused the unusual growth. Mississippi State University's Deer Lab notes that it's "difficult to identify the particular cause of a particular buck's (or doe's) abnormality without a detailed dissection or necropsy." It's unclear if one occurred in this case. (A unicorn deer was famously spotted in Italy in 2008.)

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