Weird photo of horned animal with toothy human smile is real, wildlife officials say

Weird photo of horned animal with toothy human smile is real, wildlife officials say
A disconcerting photo on Facebook of a horned-animal with a very human smile is real, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Source: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT/US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE)

(Mark Price/Charlotte Observer) -A disconcerting photo circulating on social media of a horned animal with a very human smile is real and not Photoshopped, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The animal is a pronghorn, and those fake-looking teeth are the result of a mating ritual that has more to do with smell than with smile, the service explained on Facebook.

“Have you ever seen a pronghorn smile before?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked.

“Chances are, they were exhibiting the Flehmen response, like the buck in this photo. He’s curling his upper lip and inhaling air through his mouth to better pick up the scent of females.”

The photo by Dan Streiffert was first shared Feb. 11 by the wildlife service, and it didn’t say where it was taken.

Pronghorn are a type of antelope found in the western United States, from Arizona to Oregon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife says.

Federal officials say they resemble “a long-legged goat” and can reach speeds of 60 mph, making them “the fasted land animal in North America,” according to a wildlife service report.

Commenters on the photo were both stunned and amused, with some appearing to be unconvinced it was real.

“I saw one talk one time. Asked me if i knew what time it was,” wrote Victor Estrada on Facebook.

“I’ve seen men do that very thing,” Judi Wallace posted.

“My mom’s chihuahua did the Flehmen response every time I got near her,” Joshua Goodin said on the Fish and Wildlife Service Facebook page.

Have you ever seen a pronghorn smile before? Chances are, they were exhibiting the "Flehmen response," like the buck in...

Posted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday, February 11, 2020