Deer are nothing if not symbols of wide-eyed innocence — surely you’ve heard the term “doe-eyed” or have seen the film “Bambi”?
Turns out, we’ve underestimated deer.
A study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences this week reveals that deer — yes, those pictures of guileless natural beauty — have been caught chowing down on human remains.
“Herein, we report on the first known photographic evidence of deer gnawing human remains,” write scientists from Texas’ Forensic Anthropology Research Facility in the paper, published Tuesday.
Popular Science reports that researchers left a human body out in the woods in 2014 and set up a motion-sensitive camera so they could study what scavenging species would do to the corpse.
It wasn’t for a few months that the camera caught our antlered suspect — a white-tailed deer with “a human rib bone” in its mouth. A few days later, a deer — unclear if it was the same one — was spotted again with a rib bone in its mouth like “a cigar,” according to Popular Science.
Studying the effects of wild animals on corpses can potentially help investigators figure out crucial information about found human bodies, like the length of time a person has been dead.
We’re glad they found useful information, but we wish someone had warned us deer were running around with human-bone cigars a little earlier. A Google search for “deer attack” nets a lot of results. Way more results than you might think.
And sure, these include situations where a deer has fought back against a hunter or attacked a driver after being struck. But they also include deer whose motives are less clear. For instance, a stag that reportedly attacked a visitor at a national park in Australia, or one that jumped a man who had just freed the animal from a coyote trap.
Listen, deer. We’re not all bad. Though honestly, with the destruction that humans have wrought against the natural world, it’s not that surprising you want to smoke our bones like cigars.