The Elusive Jackalope?

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The Museum's image archivist, Rene' Payne, came across this photographic plate dated from 1915-1930 in our archives. Is this real proof for the existence of the jackalope or is there a biological explanation for this oddball bunny with antlers? 


Although the actual specimen is not in our collections for modern day inspection, this bunny was most likely infected with Shope papilloma virus, a nasty virus that causes tumors typically found around the face and head of the poor bunny. These tumors might interfere with the bunny's ability to eat and eventually lead to starvation.


The rabbit virus is related to the family of human papilloma viruses (HPVs) that have been associated with genital warts and in some instances, cervical cancer. The controversy over preventative vaccination of young girls, before adolescence and potential sexual activity, is related to vaccines developed to prevent certain strains of HPV associated with HPV-induced cancers. 


It is thought that Shope's might be the basis for the jackalope myth, which dates back several hundred years.  Check out the images of "jackalopes" and see what you think. Also, check out the Museum's on-line image archives on Luna, with lots of cool images from the Museum's 100+ year history.

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