A mushroom hunter in Minnesota stumbled upon quite a find and his discovery is being hailed by researchers as a landmark case among wildlife oddities.
Two years ago, the mushroom hunter discovered conjoined white-tailed fawns, which were stillborn and believed to have been the first recorded case of conjoined deer to have reached full term and born by their mother, according to a study recently published in the science journal American Midland Naturalist.
"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, told FOX9. "There are a few reported cases of two-headed ungulate fetuses, but nothing delivered to term. So, the uniqueness made it special."
In two of the recorded cases of conjoined white-tailed fawns, neither made it through the full pregnancy.
The mushroom hunter discovered the fawns in May 2016, about a mile from the Mississippi River in Freeburg, Minnesota. The hunter contacted the Minnesota DNR, and the fawns were frozen until a necropsy could be conducted.
A CT scan and additional tests concluded the fawns had two separate head and neck regions, which rejoined along the spine. They shared a liver, had extra spleens and gastrointestinal tracts.
“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.”
Wild Images In Motion Taxidermy has mounted the conjoined fawns on a bed of greenery. They are positioned as if waking from a nap. The mount will be placed on display at the Minnesota DNR headquarters in St. Paul.
Stephanie Mallory is a mom, a hunter and Realtree’s PR Coordinator. She’s here to deliver an insider’s look at the outdoor business and give her opinion on all things outdoors—whether you asked for it or not.