deer eating human remains
Researchers described the deer as chewing the remains "like a cigar" Twitter / Jeff S

If you go down to the woods today you're sure for a big surprise: A deer has been discovered eating human remains, in a world first.

Photographs of the unprecedented sight were captured by researchers at the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility from Texas State University.

A human corpse was left on a 26-acre woodland site, known as a "body farm", as part of a study to see how human bodies decompose in the wild – including the way animals interact with them.

Other animals, including foxes and vultures, are often seen snacking on decomposing bodies but this is the first time that a deer, which primarily eats leaves, has been seen helping itself.

The white-tailed deer tucked into one of the corpse's rib bones after it had been left in the wild for 182 days.

Texas State scientists wrote in a paper that the deer gnawed "amusingly, as extending from the side of the mouth like a cigar".

They believe he was chewing the bone to extract the marrow, a rich source of nutrients. Other ungulates, such as sheep, are known to chew bones from time to time.

Body farms conduct invaluable research employed by law enforcement agencies and forensic scientists, providing knowledge about how dead bodies deteriorate when left to rot.

Texas State's Lauren Meckel explained to Quartz how the recent and sensational find could hep detectives in the future.

She said: "Law enforcement may want to know if this would be some trauma that occurred at the time of death, and we would be able to say, 'no it's not.'"

The news follows revelations from South Africa on 9 May where researchers believe killer whales are targeting sharks for their livers. A scientist said that several sharks had had their organs removed with surgical precision.

Deer eating human remains
Photos of the deer eating human remains shared by a Twitter user Twitter / Jeff S