Unusual deer with fangs – 7 things you didn't know about them
There are several extant species of fanged deer on our planet. Though often compared to vampires, these creatures are absolutely harmless and adorable. Let's learn more about them.
#1 This cute fanged deer with a golden coat is known as the water deer
There are two subspecies of these Asian deer with fangs: the Korean water deer and the Chinese water deer. Their genetic makeup is mostly the same. These animals start growing their unusual tusks during the first year of their life. When fully grown, about 60% of the tusks is visible. Females have shorter tusks.
#2 Tufted deer live in China and Myanmar
Besides the fangs, this species is characterized by a tuft of black hair on its forehead. The prominent tusks are present only in males. Due to the specifics of their habitat, tufted deer are not well-studied yet – the species is restricted to mountain forests up to 4500 m (14700 ft) above sea level.
#3 All species of musk deer have fangs
There are at least 7 species of musk deer, all of them living in Asia. In fact, musk deer are not true deer – they are the only extant genus of the family Moschidae, while true deer form the family Cervidae. The most studied musk deer is the Siberian musk deer, which lives in the taiga of southern Siberia.
#4 Muntjacs have both tusks and antlers
Deer of this genus are native to South Asia and were also introduced to the UK and Ireland. There are 12 species of muntjacs. They are also known as 'barking deer' because of their sharp calls.
Try to name all the animals in this fun trivia quiz.
#5 Many fanged deer are in danger
Musk deer are considered vulnerable, but can become endangered very soon – they are often hunted for their musk gland. Tufted deer are considered near-threatened because of habitat loss and overhunting. Water deer are also actively hunted.
#6 How did all these deer end up with fangs?
Most scientists agree that the common ancestor of all deer was a small creature with both antlers and tusks. During evolution, larger deer grew larger antlers and lost tusks, while smaller species kept the fangs but developed smaller antlers or lost them.
#7 These prominent tusks are not related to that of carnivores
Fanged deer only use their long canines in territorial fights and to attract mates. All these animals are herbivores.
Have you ever heard about 'vampire deer' before? Would you like to see a deer with fangs with your own eyes?
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