Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Unicorn deer" observed in Italy

A deer with one horn in the middle of its forehead is living in a nature preserve in Italy. The animal, a roe deer about a year old, lives in a reserve near Florence. Interestingly, the animal's twin (the births were observed by researchers) has the normal complement of horns. On expert commented that, while one-horned deer have been seen before, they are usually simply missing one horn. Seeing one horn in the center indicates a more puzzling genetic oddity.
COMMENT: "Unicorn" cattle and goats have been produced artificially by grafting the horn buds together in the desired spot soon after birth, but it's not clear whether there are any good prior records of wild animals being born with this feature. This case shows such a genetic freak is possible, raising the question of whether animals like this deer could have played a role in the origins of the unicorn myth.

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