And we may never know why it formed.
Wildlife biologists in Southeast Idaho are stumped — a mountain lion killed last week near the Idaho/Utah border by an unidentified hunter had a strange abnormality. This rare physical deformity involves a separate set of teeth growing out the side of the lion’s forehead.
Photos of the cougar were sent to the Idaho Fish and Game’s Southeast Regional Office in Pocatello, shocking officials. “It has all of us scratching our heads,” regional wildlife biologist Zach Lockyer told Idaho State Journal. “It’s a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo.”
It is a deformity that local Fish and Game biologists had never seen before. However, there are a few theories as to what would cause this type of growth.
First, the teeth could be a remains of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was then absorbed into the surviving fetus. Although conjoined animals are extremely rare in nature, they do occur.
Second, it could be a teratoma, which is a rare tumor that contains hair, teeth and bones. In even rarer circumstances, a teratoma can also form body parts including eyes, fingers and toes.
Lastly, it could be due to an injury. If the lion suffered an injury to either its jaw or teeth, it could have healed in a very unusual way. However, the photos do not show any signs of a mouth injury. In fact, the lion appears to have a normal set of teeth.
The hunter who killed the lion is planning on taking the remains to a taxidermist, but Idaho Fish and Game are hoping the hunter will bring the lion in for more analysis. If the hunter does not agree, the deformity will remain a mystery.
As Lockyer said to Idaho State Journal, “We may never know why those teeth are there.”
Editor's note (January 11): In the original article, the quotes by Zach Lockyer were not attributed to Idaho State Journal. We appoligze for any confusion this may have caused.