Not Your Average Deer

in #animalslast year

It's been a while, Steemit! I had to pop in today with one of my coolest finds, though it is not of the scaly/slimy variety! 

This evening, I was at Cold Harbor Battlefield, just playing some Pokemon Go and enjoying our bout of really nice weather. There were only a couple other people in the park so it was pretty quiet, and there were quite a few white-tailed deer (not at all uncommon). It was as I was leaving that I stumbled across something weird. When I pulled out of the park, something darted past and into the bushes. It was about the size of a deer, but in the split second I saw it out of the corner of my eye, it looked more like a really large goat. I pulled into a driveway to make a u-turn as quick as possible because whatever it was was NOT normal. As luck would have it, it came back out of the woods by the time I came back and stood just beside the highway.

Unfortunately, all I had was my poor quality cell-phone camera (it was pretty far away AND I would only slow down so much as I was on a major road). It was definitely a deer, but I had never seen one with a pattern quite like this.

(You can see the head shift between these two pictures, so no, this is not a statue.)

He stood still just long enough for me to get a couple blurry shots, then bounded back into the forest. The nearby ranger station was closed, so I couldn't go in to get more info, but the pattern reminded me of those seen in piebald snakes. Turns out, piebaldism does occur in less than 2% of white-tailed deer, making this a really cool encounter!

I'll be going back to notify the park rangers (I'm sure they are keeping tabs on this guy) and hopefully, take some better quality photos if I see him again!

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Locally Columbian Blacktail deer featuring piebaldry are common. There's a theory amongst the local dairy farmers that Holstein cattle have affected deer genetics, and produced the piebald deer.

I'm not ruling that out, but neither do I subscribe. Hybridism is far more common that we expect, as you can discover by visiting macroevolution.net, from the author of 'The Handbook of Avian Hybrids', the bible of the field. The speciation revealed in the fossil record far more strongly supports hybridization than Darwinian mechanisms, and this has been a stumbling block to evolutionary biologists for decades.

DNA studies of piebald deer are overdue.

Thanks!

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