This Mysterious Fanged Deer Was Seen for the First Time in 60 Years
There's no better time than Halloween for a mysterious species of fanged deer to make its first appearance in decades.
A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society revealed five sightings of the Kashmir musk deer, a species native to Afghanistan. These marked the first reported musk deer sightings in 60 years.
The deer: It may look like it wants to suck your blood, but this and other musk deer actually use those nasty-looking fangs during mating season. Males fight and try to impress females with their dental monstrosities.
According to the study, the spottings include a lone male deer sighted three times, a lone female, and a mother with a child. The Kashmir musk deer is endangered, which makes every sighting a pretty big deal. (There aren't any photos of these guys — the ones you're seeing here are of the closely related Siberian musk deer.)
Image Credit: John Goodrich/WCS/Facebook
In danger: The musk deer's struggles can be traced to hunting. Some will pay as much as $20,000 a pound for their scent glands, according to the Washington Post, which can be used in traditional medicines and perfumes.
Because of security conditions in Afghanistan, researchers rely on locals to report sightings. Further protecting them will require conservation of habitat and an end to poaching, according to the group.
"Musk deer are one of Afghanistan's living treasures," Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Peter Zahler said in a statement. "This rare species, along with better known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation. We hope that conditions will stabilize soon to allow WCS and local partners to better evaluate conservation needs of this species."