Georgia Journal of Science


Congenital anomalies are rarely documented in wild ungulates. This study describes a congenital facial malformation in a mature male white-tailed deer harvested in central Georgia in 2020. The skull displays a mediolateral deflection of the rostrum, and the mandibles display similar deflection with posterior rotation at the mandibular symphysis, a maxillofacial malformation commonly called wry face. Based on physical examination and radiographic imagery, there were no signs of neoplasia or healed bone trauma on the skull or jaws, suggesting a congenital origin for the deformity. Studies of domestic horses displaying wry face conclude that the malformation arises from fetal mispositioning within the uterus during late term pregnancy. Lacking contrasting evidence, fetal mispositioning is a plausible cause for the anomaly documented here. It is likely that such anomalies in wild ungulates are rarely documented due to reduced survivability of afflicted neonates.


We thank Lori Robinson for kindly allowing access to the Jones Co. skull. A special thanks to Cort Webb and Dr. Dean Campbell at Campbell Veterinary Hospital for the radiographs of the skull and mandible. Additional thanks to Dr. Karekin Cunningham (radiologist) for examining the radiographs. We thank Heidi Mead at Georgia College for assistance with photography. Heidi Mead and Dennis Parmley provided valuable feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. Additionally, this manuscript benefited from reviews by two anonymous reviewers.