(NEXSTAR) – In a manner of speaking, a “unicorn” was caught wandering a national park in Arizona during last month’s full moon.
Officials at the Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona shared a picture of the one-horned animal — which they identified as a young male elk — because its singular antler resembled a horn more than anything onlookers might usually associate with an elk.
“The full moon brings out the park’s unicorns,” a representative for the Petrified Forest wrote on Facebook, along with two photos of the animal.
The funny sight, they said, was likely due to the young elk losing one of its early antlers — the first sets of which usually emerge as “single beams with typically no forks or tines.”
“The shedding of antlers typically occurs in late winter or early spring, but early antler loss can result from sparring, poor nutrition, or disease/injuries that affect testosterone levels,” park officials wrote.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service further explains on its site that antlers are not considered horns, like the permanent bones on animals within the bovine family, but rather “branched bones” that are shed every year.
Still, that didn’t stop the Petrified Forest National Park from having some fun with its Facebook post — or theorizing about which mythical animals might appear next.
“With the next full moon occurring on November 27th, we’ll be sure to watch for … Pegasuses?! Pegasi?! Whatever the plural term is for flying horses.”
The young male elk in the trail camera pics, meanwhile, has likely already started to grow another antler, as they begin to come in “just a few weeks” after shedding, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Adult white-tailed deer antlers can grow ¼ inch per day, whereas elk antlers grow about an inch per day,” FWS writes.