A Unicorn Deer killed by a hunter has sparked controversy, but others say it was a mythical creature near Mt. Spokane in Washington.
The deer is usually mentioned as a mythical creature in fairy-tales and children’s books, according to The Inquisitr. As Amy Calkins got closer to the animal, she was shocked by what she saw. The buck was actually a unicorn deer, with a rare type of antler stemming from the middle of its head.
“I was in complete shock by the whole situation. How could this [female] deer have antlers? I felt kind of lucky. I even played the lotto last weekend.”
After the unicorn deer was killed, Amy inspected her lucky catch. Although this sighting is extremely rare, it has been seen before. She found that the unicorn horn occurs from a hormone imbalance in the animal, which will be featured on the Discovery Channel later this year.
Amy’s excitement in getting the new trophy quickly turned to concern when she realized that the unicorn buck was actually female, according to the Examiner. She compiled unedited photos and video in case anyone questioned whether the doe really had a horn. Out of all of her friends who hunt, Amy says none of them have seen anything like this.
This unicorn deer is similar to what another hunter discovered in Celje, Slovenia in August. The buck killed is an extremely rare type of antler deformity, likely caused by an injury early in the antlers’ development. Such injuries are common and often lead to antler abnormalities, including bizarrely shaped racks.
The rare type of antler on this Slovenian “unicorn” is so unusual that scientist Bostjan Pokorny, who verified the animal’s authenticity, said the unicorn deer killed is nothing like he’s ever seen.
“In this species, only males grow antlers, which are bilateral and usually symmetrical bone structures that appear from two antler pedicles, i.e. extensions of the skull. However, in the case of this very untypical and interesting buck, both pedicles, which should be separated, grew up together in one large pedicle.”
This unicorn deer was killed by a hunter who selected it for its advanced age and because it had just one rare type of antler. Any buck can lose an antler any number of ways, and a remaining antler is referred to as a “spike.” However, from a distance, there was no way for the hunter to know that this animal had a rare deformity rather than a spike, according to Pokorny.
The image of the unicorn deer skeleton will appear in the December issue of National Geographic Slovenia magazine. Hunters are allowed to shoot the abundant deer species in Slovenia, and this one was thought to have been selected because of its age. Deer can lose an antler in lots of ways – including rutting in breeding season – and the one left over is called a “spike.”
While the unicorn deer may not have been magical, wildlife biologist Kip Adams said the cells that cause antlers to grow are “amazing” and antlers are the most rapidly growing bones known in mammals. Antlers are shed every year and are made of bone. They differ from horns, which are permanent and made from keratin, just like fingernails and hair.
Adams, director of education and outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association in Georgia, explains more about the unicorn deer.
“If they get hit by a car or get kicked by another deer, well, that can cause abnormal growth for the rest of the year.”
Once antlers have hardened, the unicorn deer re-absorbs nutrients stored at the base of the antler, which weakens the bone above.
A unicorn horn is an antler made from bone and are typically grown and cast off in a yearly cycle, whereas horns (think of a bighorn sheep) are permanent and composed mostly of keratin–the same substance that makes up hair and fingernails.
In many deer species, longer periods of sunlight trigger a release of testosterone in the male’s body, which in turn spurs antler growth. From spring to fall, the antlers are composed of soft, living tissue, mostly blood and nerves, and are covered by a fuzzy layer of skin often referred to as velvet.
A unicorn is a legendary animal that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn horn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian. The Bible also describes a similar animal.
In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. In medieval and Renaissance times, the horn of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horn.
The unicorn is not found in Greek mythology, but rather in accounts of natural history, for Greek writers of natural history were convinced of the reality of the unicorn, which they located in India, a distant and fabulous realm for them.
The unicorn deer killed may have been hit by a car or get kicked by another deer, which can cause an abnormal growth for the rest of the year, notes KRMG. Pokorny said he doesn’t believe the animal’s defect affected its ability to thrive. For one, it had already reached an old age, and the animal’s weight was above average when it was shot.