All the Better to, um, Well, Do Something

A cougar with a serious overbite confounds scientists in Idaho.

By Jim Knipfel

Last week, and unidentified hunter near Weston, Idaho bagged himself a mountain lion. But when he got online afterward to post some proud pictures of his new trophy, Fish and Wildlife officials across the southeastern part of the state sat up, took notice and got very excited, while at the same time freely admitting they had no idea what the hell they were looking at.

The pictures seemed to reveal the yearling cougar, see, had an extra set of teeth growing out of the side of its skull. I mean, that’s not right, is it? Who the hell has extra teeth growing near the top of their head, nowhere near the mouth? That’s just wrong. Clearly not regular viewers of the fine programming choices available on the Nature or History Channels—shows like “Weird Shit Growing Out of Indian Kids” or “more of God’s Boo-Boos”—local biologists and other interested parties  began speculating wildly about how all those extra teeth might have ended up where they did.

While one camp of wildlife biologists (the small group that does occasionally tune into Nature) is guessing it’s one of those teratomas, rare and creepy tumors that can take the form of hair, bones or teeth, another group thinks it’s the remnants of some kind of parasitic twin, like in those Basket Case movies, except this one didn’t develop much beyond the mouth. Still a third faction is arguing for some reason it was the result of some terrible mouth accident which healed up all screwy-like, leaving the teeth, y’know, sticking out of the damn cat’s forehead

Yeah, I’m still trying to imagine how that one would work, myself.

What’s preventing them from coming to any solid agreement is that all they have to work with are the online pictures. No one really seems clear who the hunter in question might be. (Oh, come on, it’s fucking IDAHO—just take a show of hands). In any case the local Fish and Game Commission has put out the call, asking the hunter, whoever he might be, to pretty please bring the head in so they can take an MRI or something. So far they’ve heard nothing in response, and rumor has it those warring factions are getting pretty ugly.

My own guess is what we’re dealing with here is the first step toward the next dramatic stage of cougar evolution. They’re pretty efficient and vicious killers as it is, which explains why there’s still a bounty on cougars in most Western states, but can you imagine the kind of damage they could do if they had an extra mouth to work with? Unless the whole thing’s just a really weird and dumb hoax. Whatever it turns out to be, you can rest assured the producers at the Nature Channel are in a tizzy right now, and will have a two-hour special about the cougar on the air by month’s end.

Published January 13th, 2016

Jim Knipfel is the author of Slackjaw, The Blow-Off, These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and several other books.