Ask The Biologist

Gender Fender Bender

Gender Fender Bender

By Bob Humphrey

Without an examination, it’s hard to determine why a doe would have antlers.

QUESTION: Many years ago, a friend hit a deer with his vehicle. It was a 10-point buck, but it didn’t have male genitals. That means it was a doe. Why did this doe have antlers? — Tracy F.

ANSWER: Mammals are typically born either male or female, as determined by both genotypic (genetic) and phenotypic (physical) characteristics. However, exceptions occasionally occur, which can sometimes lead to confusion.

It is possible the deer your friend hit was a female that for some strange reason had an excess of testosterone and, as a result, grew antlers. It’s also possible it was a buck whose genitals never fully formed, which could explain why the antlers were in velvet.

Without more detailed examination of the individual deer, it is difficult to determine the actual cause of these aberrations or mutations.

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Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd