Texas Biologists Capture Footage of Extremely Rare Melanistic Mule Deer Fawn

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

This condition affects one in several million mule deer

Texas biologists say they’ve captured video footage of the “rarest of rare” animals during a recent wildlife survey.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officers spotted a melanistic — black-haired — mule deer fawn while conducting surveys from a helicopter in the Trans-Pecos region of west Texas.

The TPWD posted footage (credited to District 1 biologists J. Etchart and J. Weaver) of the black fawn running up a hillside on its Facebook page and wrote, “It’s difficult for biologists to quantify the number of mule deer that have this condition, but it’s estimated to be around 1 in several million – making it even more rare than an albino (all white hair) or piebald (white spotted) mule deer.”

According to TPWD, melanism is a rare, random genetic anomaly, most likely caused by mutations in the melanicortin 1 receptor gene (MC1R), resulting in an overproduction of the pigment melanin.

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