‘Rarest of rare’ animal spotted in Texas desert

·1 min read

The desert mule deer is a common sight in the Trans-Pecos region of west Texas, but when wildlife biologists conducted surveys recently, they came across an extremely uncommon sight.

In fact, it was what they called “the rarest of rare” animals.

What the Texas Parks and Wildlife—Trans-Pecos Wildlife District spotted from a helicopter and captured in video was a melanistic (black hair) mule deer fawn, “a one-in-a-million anomaly.”

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“This special deer appears all black except for quick flashes of white fur as it dashes away from the whirring helicopter,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said. “It stands in stark contrast to the older, larger mule deer running ahead of it, sporting the typical brown and white coloration.”

The video was posted on Facebook with credit to District 1 biologists J. Etchart and J. Weaver.


“Melanism is a rare, random genetic anomaly believed to be caused by mutations in the melanicortin 1 receptor gene (MC1R), which leads to an over production of the pigment melanin,” the TPWD stated on Facebook.

“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. A one-in-a-million anomaly.”

Photo courtesy of TPWD.

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