A mountain lion with a rare physical abnormality has wildlife officials in Southeast Idaho stumped. The yearling cougar, which was harvested near Weston last week by an unidentified hunter, had a separate set of teeth growing out the side of its forehead.
After the conservation officer who inspected the animal sent in photos of the lion’s deformity to Idaho Fish and Game’s Southeast Regional Office in Pocatello, wildlife biologists were stunned by what they saw.
“It has all of us scratching our heads,” said regional wildlife biologist Zach Lockyer. “It’s a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo.”
Lockyer said the teeth were growing out of hard tissue on the left side of the animal’s forehead, an abnormality local Fish and Game biologists say they have never seen before.
Fish and Game biologists and veterinarians have a few theories of how this could happen. For one, the teeth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was absorbed into the lion killed last week. Conjoined animals in nature are very rare occurrences.
The biologists and veterinarians said it could also be a teratoma, which is a rare tumor that can contain hair, teeth and bones. In rare circumstances, a teratoma can also sprout more complex body parts such as eyes, fingers or toes. Like conjoined twins, teratomas are rare in both humans and animals but have been documented in canines and horses.
Image: Idaho State Journal