Villagers were horrified when a sheep gave birth to a deformed creature that appeared almost half-human, which some said was "sent by the devil."
The villagers, who live in Lady Frere, South Africa, were disturbed when the baby lamb was born dead but appeared to resemble a human being.
"We can confirm this not a hoax photo but that the severely deformed lamb was born by a sheep in Lady Frere this week which at a glance resembles a human form," Dr. Lubabalo Mrwebi, chief director of veterinary services for the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development, told the Daily Mail.
"It is not however human but a deformed stillborn lamb sired by a sheep and was subsequently infected by a Rift Valley Fever at an early stage of its pregnancy. It is worth noting that a sheep has 28 pairs of chromosomes while humans have 23 pairs which is important in dispelling the myth that a union of a sheep ovum and a human sperm can lead to a development of a viable life form. The deformed lamb exhibits signs that are consistent with an early fetal development that went wrong as a result of a viral infection and nothing more."
Mrwebi said the likely cause of the deformity was the Rift Valley fever virus carried by the mother.
"The resultant circulation of the virus in the blood found its way through the maternal blood into the uterus and the fetus, which was at a very critical stage of development," he said. "The infected fetus then, as a result, failed to form properly, leading to the deformity that it became. It does look like a human form but it is not part human at all."
The likely time of conception was evidence, Mrwebi said, that the lamb contracted the virus. The gestation period for sheep is five months, meaning that the lamb was conceived in either late December 2016 or January. This was reportedly a particularly rainy period of time in the village, which brought mosquitos and bugs that likely carried the RVF virus.
The virus, the CDC reports, is found in regions of both eastern and southern Africa and was first discovered in animals in 1910. Humans have been known to contract the virus, with one particular epidemic occurring in 1977 that resulted in more than 600 deaths.
Despite the doctor's clarification regarding the baby lamb's condition, many villagers feared that there was something supernatural about it.
"The elders when they saw it said it was sent by the devil and was born after a coupling between a man and a sheep and then there was panic," one villager said. "Many people are afraid and will not be happy until it is burned."