A mountain lion, which was legally killed by an unidentified hunter, was found to have a set of teeth growing out of the side of his head.
The Idaho State Journal reported the lion was harvested near Weston on Dec. 30 and baffled wildlife officials after a conservation official sent a picture to the Idaho Fish and Game’s Southeast Regional Office in Pocatello.
“It has all of us scratching our heads,” biologist Zack Lockyear told the State Journal. “It’s a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo.”
Idaho Fish and Game said in a news release Friday officials cannot fully explain the abnormal deformity on the lion’s head, but did offer some theories as to why the lion had teeth and apparently whiskers growing out of the part 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. 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.”
Lockyer told the State Journal that another possible theory could be that the lion suffered an injury to its jaw and it healed in an odd way. However, he said that theory is probably unlikely.
Officials added in the statement that biologists in the region have never seen this kind of deformity before.
The mountain lion was killed at the end of the year. It was initially seen attacking a dog on the hunter’s rural property in Weston. The lion was chased off, but its tracks were followed through other properties in the area and then through the hills.
Within three hours of the attack, the hunter tracked the animal with the use of hounds and killed the big cat legally. The hunter’s dog survived the mountain lion’s attack, officials said.
Mountain lions can be legally hunted in Idaho and are treated as big game animal much like elk and mule deer. They can only be pursued during certain seasons in areas that are open to hunting and have the proper license and tag.