MAY 06, 2017 7:55 AM PDT

Wild Deer Caught on Camera While Munching on Human Remains

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

For the first time in recorded history, researchers from Texas State University have observed a white-tailed deer munching on the remains of a human body.

White-tailed deer typically stick to an herbivorous diet, but sometimes they go off looking for other minerals to munch on.

Image Credit: Edbo23/Pixabay

This behavior was quite surprising, given the creature’s typical herbivorous diet, but for all we know today, white-tailed deer could’ve exhibited this kind of behavior with other animal remains and went unnoticed for years.

The discovery, which is published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, was made possible when researchers planted the remains of a body (donated to science) in the middle of the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF) located in San Marcos, Texas in the Summer of 2014. They then set up camera traps to see what would happen as a result of the body’s presence.

Related: Controlling deer populations may help native plant species

Because FARF has 26-acres of land with plenty of wooded area, there tends to be a lot of wildlife nearby, including white-tailed deer. Scientists knew this would be a great place to study the effects of nature on a decomposing human body, so it wasn’t surprising to see wildlife investigating the remains from time to time.

By the beginning of 2015, scientists observed a white-tailed deer visiting the corpse and then munching on the bones. The camera shots actually show the deer with a human rib bone in its mouth.

Image Credit: Meckel et al.; Journal of Forensic Science 2017

Despite the typical herbivorous diet, it’s not uncommon to see deer occasionally going after meat sources to get a fair share of protein and minerals that are difficult to get from plant sources alone. That said, deer are sort of weird when it comes to what they'll eat – they're all over the place.

“The desire to consume bone, is practiced by ungulates primarily to obtain phosphorus in addition to supplementing calcium, sodium, and other minerals that are absent from their vegetarian diet during periods of nutritional stress, particularly in the winter months or without seasonal preference,” the researchers write in the study.

After a few short weeks, the body was visited once again by another deer, but from the video alone, it’s difficult to tell whether or not it was the same one.

Following the visits, scientists went to visit the remains and took note of all the damage to the bones that took place from the gnawing. Since every animal leaves behind its own distinct damage patterns, they could prove helpful in future crime scene investigations, as they’ll provide a baseline of data for how certain kinds of animals affect human remains in the wild.

Source: Gizmodo

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 16, 2020
These Crabs Decorate Themselves to Avoid Being Eaten
The animal world is chock-full of critters that do seemingly odd or unusual things. The decorator crab is one such examp ...
APR 03, 2020
Health & Medicine
APR 03, 2020
Cannabis Could Have Adverse Effects on Fertility
New research proves that female eggs exposed to THC may affect their ability to produce embryos that will result in a vi ...
APR 06, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 06, 2020
Coral reefs' genetic diversity threatened by humans
We all know that coral reefs are under extensive threat from climate change and pollution, many facing complete devastat ...
APR 08, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 08, 2020
The Great Barrier Reef is Bleaching Again
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is going through another bleaching event; it's third in five years. The ARC Centr ...
APR 26, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 26, 2020
Researchers Observe Vocal Learning in Bats
Bats have garnered oodles of attention in previous weeks as they’ve been identified as potential carriers of the i ...
MAY 07, 2020
Health & Medicine
MAY 07, 2020
Mosquito Feeding Time Shift Impacts Malaria Prevention Methods
Thanks to the success of insecticide-treated bed nets, mosquitos seem to have shifted their feeding times away from the ...
Loading Comments...