The discovery of a stillborn white-tailed fawn in a Minnesota forest two years ago is believed to be the first recorded case of a conjoined two-headed deer to have reached full term and born by their mother.
The study was recently published in the science journal American Midland Naturalist and is being hailed by researchers as a landmark case among wildlife deformity.
“It’s never been described before,” Lou Cornicelli, co-author of the study and a wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said according to Fox News.
“There are a few reported cases of two-headed ungulate fetuses, but nothing delivered to term. So, the uniqueness made it special.”
There have been two other conjoined white-tailed deer fawns cases reported in the past, however neither made it through the full pregnancy, the Daily Mail reported.
The discovery of a stillborn white-tailed fawn in a forest two years ago is believed to be the first recorded case of a conjoined two-headed deer to have been born. Photo / University of Georgia
A mushroom hunter made the discovery about a mile from the Mississippi River in Freeburg, Minnesota in May 2016.
The hunter immediately alerted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the fawns were consequently frozen until a necropsy could be conducted.
A CT scan and MRI were conducted and revealed the fawns had two separate head-neck regions, which rejoined along the spine.
Internally the fawns had a shared liver, extra spleens, and gastrointestinal tracts, according co-author Gino D’Angelo, a researcher at the University of Georgia.
“Their anatomy indicates the fawns would never have been viable,” D’Angelo told UGA Today.
“Yet, they were found groomed and in a natural position, suggesting that the doe tried to care for them after delivery. The maternal instinct is very strong.”
The study was recently published in the science journal American Midland Naturalist and is being hailed by researchers as a landmark case among wildlife deformity. Photo / University of Georgia / D’Angelo et al
D’Angelo said conjoined twins are relatively commonly in domestic animals, however they are extremely rare in other wildlife.
Wild Images In Motion Taxidermy positioned the conjoined fawns on a bed of greenery, however, they’ll eventually be moved to the Minnesota DNR headquarters in St. Paul and placed on public display.
“We all thought it was pretty neat and were glad to be able to show it to the public,”Cornicelli said.
“The taxidermists, Robert Utne and Jessica Brooks, did a great job with the mount and treated it very respectfully.”