Some very unusually-colored moose (elk, Alces alces) were photographed in Finland this past Saturday:
These animals are not albinos. It’s very easy to see the spots all over their bodies.
They almost resemble the coloration that comes from the leopard complex in horses, which is most associated with the Appaloosa. These moose actually resemble what are called “white-born” or “few spot,” which are homozygous (Lp/Lp) horses.
I don’t know how likely it would be to find that moose have the same mutation as horses, and it would be very unusual for two moose to produce offspring that would be homozgyous for this unusual color.
However, in horses, this color predates domestication. Genetic tests of horses that lived during the Pleistocene and the Copper Age revealed that some of the horses had the allele associated with leopard spotting.
It is possible, then, for these moose to have something similar going on.
I don’t know if it is the same mutation, but it is unlikely.
However, it is very similar.
I think these moose are two of this year’s calves, so they likely have the same mother.
My guess is there aren’t too many wolves running around this part of Finland. Otherwise, they would have been eaten by now.
I wonder how hard it would be to get a DNA sample off of them.
My guess is that it wouldn’t be very difficult find them and then scout around for moose scat or bits of hair.
They certainly have pique my curiosity.
Why are these moose this color?