Photo by Николай Усик /paradoxusik.livejournal.com/ (Own work)/ CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
As its name suggests, the tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) is often recognized by the tuft of brown or black hair that grows on its forehead. Its most striking feature is nevertheless the incredibly large canines, which stick out of its mouth like fangs. You have to admit that a vampire-esque look isn’t the common image that comes into one’s mind when thinking at the gentle deer.
The tufted deer can typically be found throughout southern and central China, in high valley jungles and mountain forests (between elevations of 300 and 4,750 metres). Because of its hardly accessible habitat and its custom to be most active at dawn and dusk the tufted deer is a poorly studied animal.
However the role of its scary but fascinating protruding canines it is very clear. They are specific to the males only, to help them defend their territory and win females. The antlers are also present only at males but they are so tiny that barely poke through their tuft of hair. This is the reason why their large teeth end up playing a major role in resolving conflicts.
Another interesting thing about this fascinating animal is its defense mechanism. When feeling threatened the tufted deer will first let out a bark before running away in a wild pattern, displaying its white rump with every jump and flops down after. Thus, just like the white-tailed deer, the tufted deer too use its tail to confuse potential predators.
Although suffering from over-hunting and habitat loss, the tufted deer is not considered to be endangered.