Last updated

Temporal range: Late Miocene to recent
~11.63–0  Ma
Elaphurus davidianus 001.jpg
Père David's deer (Elaphurus davidianus)
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Goldfuss, 1820

The Cervinae or the Old World deer, are a subfamily of deer. Alternatively, they are known as the plesiometacarpal deer, due to having lost the parts of the second and fifth metacarpal bones closest to the foot (though retaining the parts away from the foot), distinct from the telemetacarpal deer of the Capreolinae (which have instead retained these parts of those metacarpals, while losing the parts away from the foot instead). [1]


Classification and species

The following species are recognised in extant genera: [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

The taxonomy of Cervini is poorly resolved due to conflict between nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA phylogenies:

Mitchondrial DNA phylogeny after Heckeberg (2020) [7] [8]




Elaphodus (tufted deer)

Muntiacus (muntjacs)


Rucervus (Schomburgk's deer and barasingha)

Axis (chital, hog deer)

Dama (Fallow deer)

Megaloceros giganteus (Irish elk)

Elaphurus (Père David's deer)

Panolia/Rucervus eldii (Eld's deer)

Rusa alfredi (Visayan spotted deer)

Rusa marianna (Philippine deer)

Rusa timorensis (Javan rusa)

Rusa unicolor (Sambar deer)

Cervus (red deer, elk, sika deer)

Nuclear DNA phylogeny after Heckeberg (2020) [7] [8]




Elaphodus (tufted deer)

Muntiacus (muntjacs)


Dama (Fallow deer)

Elaphurus (Père David's deer)

Cervus elaphus (red deer)

Cervus nippon (sika deer)

Cervus albirostris (Thorold's deer)

Rusa unicolor (Sambar deer)

Rusa timorensis (Javan rusa)

Panolia/Rucervus eldii (Eld's deer)

Rucervus duvaucelii (barasingha)

Axis (chital, hog deer)

Extinct genera


Cervinae is suggested to have split from Capreolinae at least 13.8 million years ago based on the first appearance of Euprox, suggested to be a stem-group cervine in Europe at this time. [9] Modern Cervinae first appeared during the Late Miocene in Eastern Asia, arriving in the Indian subcontinent and Europe during the Early Pilocene. [1] The ancestor of Cervinae probably had a bifurcated antlers similar to muntjacs, with the complex antlers of Cervini evolving independently from those of Capreolinae. [10] Cervinae radiated during the Early Pleistocene, becoming the dominant group of deer across Eurasia. [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deer</span> Family of mammals

A deer or true deer is a hoofed ruminant ungulate of the family Cervidae. It is divided into subfamilies Cervinae and Capreolinae. Male deer of almost all species, as well as female reindeer, grow and shed new antlers each year. These antlers are bony extensions of the skull and are often used for combat between males.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antler</span> Extensions of the skull found in animals of the family Cervidae (deer)

Antlers are extensions of an animal's skull found in members of the Cervidae (deer) family. Antlers are a single structure composed of bone, cartilage, fibrous tissue, skin, nerves, and blood vessels. They are generally found only on males, with the exception of reindeer/caribou. Antlers are shed and regrown each year and function primarily as objects of sexual attraction and as weapons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Père David's deer</span> Species of mammals native to China

The Père David's deer, also known as the milu or elaphure, is a species of deer native to the subtropical river valleys of China. It grazes mainly on grass and aquatic plants. It is the only extant member of the genus Elaphurus. Some experts suggest demoting Elaphurus to a subgenus of Cervus. Based on genetic comparisons, Père David's deer is closely related to Eld's deer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moschidae</span> Family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Moschidae is a family of pecoran even-toed ungulates, containing the musk deer (Moschus) and its extinct relatives. They are characterized by long 'saber teeth' instead of horns, antlers or ossicones, modest size and a lack of facial glands. While various Oligocene and Miocene pecorans were previously assigned to this family, recent studies find that most should be assigned to their own clades, although further research would need to confirm these traits. As a result, Micromeryx, Hispanomeryx, and Moschus are the only undisputed moschid members, making them known from at least 18 Ma. The group was abundant across Eurasia and North America during the Miocene, but afterwards declined to only the extant genus Moschus by the early Pleistocene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irish elk</span> Extinct species of deer

The Irish elk, also called the giant deer or Irish deer, is an extinct species of deer in the genus Megaloceros and is one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia during the Pleistocene, from Ireland to Lake Baikal in Siberia. The most recent remains of the species have been radiocarbon dated to about 7,700 years ago in western Russia. Its antlers, which can span 3.5 metres (11 ft) across are the largest known of any deer. It is not closely related to either living species called the elk, with it being widely agreed that its closest living relatives are fallow deer (Dama).

<i>Megaloceros</i> Extinct genus of deer

Megaloceros is an extinct genus of deer whose members lived throughout Eurasia from the Pleistocene to the early Holocene. The type and only undisputed member of the genus, Megaloceros giganteus, vernacularly known as the "Irish elk" or "giant deer", is also the best known. Fallow deer are thought to be their closest living relatives. Megaloceros is thought to be closely related to the East Asian genus Sinomegaceros, as well as possibly other extinct genera of "giant deer".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Palawan (island)</span> Island in the Philippines

Palawan is the largest island of the province of Palawan in the Philippines and fifth-largest by area and tenth-most populous island of the country, with a total population of 994,101 as of 2020 census. The northwest coast of the island is along the Palawan Passage in the eastern South China Sea, while the southeast coast forms part of the northern limit of the Sulu Sea. Much of the island remains traditional and is considered by some as under-developed. Abundant wildlife, jungle mountains, and some white sandy beaches attract many tourists, as well as international companies looking for development opportunities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Water deer</span> Species of mammals belonging to the deer family of ruminants

The water deer is a small deer species native to Korea and China. Its prominent tusks, similar to those of musk deer, have led to both subspecies being colloquially named vampire deer in English-speaking areas to which they have been imported. It was first described to the Western world by Robert Swinhoe in 1870.

<i>Eucladoceros</i> Extinct genus of mammal

Eucladoceros is an extinct genus of large deer whose fossils have been discovered across Eurasia, from Europe to China, spanning from the Late Pliocene-Early Pleistocene. It is noted for its unusual comb-like antlers.

<i>Cervus</i> Genus of deer and elk

Cervus is a genus of deer that primarily are native to Eurasia, although one species occurs in northern Africa and another in North America. In addition to the species presently placed in this genus, it has included a whole range of other species now commonly placed in other genera. Additionally, the species-level taxonomy is in a state of flux.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elk</span> Large antlered species of deer from North America and East Asia

The elk, or wapiti, is the second largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in its native range of North America and Central and East Asia. The word "elk" originally referred to the European variety of the moose, Alces alces, but was transferred to Cervus canadensis by North American colonists. The name "wapiti" derives from a Shawnee and Cree word meaning "white rump" for the distinctive light fur in the rear region, just like the Bighorn Sheep.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central Asian red deer</span> Deer species

The Central Asian red deer, also known as the Tarim red deer, is a deer species native to Central Asia, where it used to be widely distributed, but is scattered today with small population units in several countries. It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2017. It was first described in the mid-19th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Capreolinae</span> Subfamily of mammals

The Capreolinae, Odocoileinae, or the New World deer are a subfamily of deer. Alternatively, they are known as the telemetacarpal deer, due to their bone structure being different from the plesiometacarpal deer subfamily Cervinae. The telemetacarpal deer maintain their distal lateral metacarpals, while the plesiometacarpal deer maintain only their proximal lateral metacarpals. The Capreolinae are believed to have originated in the Middle Miocene, between 7.7 and 11.5 million years ago, in Central Asia.

<i>Rucervus</i> Genus of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

Rucervus is a genus of deer from India, Nepal, Indochina, and the Chinese island of Hainan. The only extant representatives, the barasingha or swamp deer and Eld's deer, are threatened by habitat loss and hunting; another species, Schomburgk’s deer, went extinct in 1938. Deer species found within the genus Rucervus are characterized by a specific antler structure, where the basal ramification is often supplemented with an additional small prong, and the middle tine is never present. The crown tines are inserted on the posterior side of the beam and may be bifurcated or fused into a small palmation.

<i>Cervavitus</i> Genus of mammals (fossil)

Cervavitus is a genus of prehistoric deer that lived from the late Miocene to the Early Pleistocene in parts of Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and China.

<i>Praemegaceros</i> Extinct genus of deer

Praemegaceros is an extinct genus of deer, known from the Pleistocene and Holocene of Western Eurasia. It contains the subgenera Praemegaceros,Orthogonoceros and Nesoleipoceros. It has sometimes been synonymised with Megaloceros and Megaceroides, however they have been found to be generically distinct.

Morenelaphus is an extinct genus of capreoline deer that lived in South America during the Pleistocene, ranging from the Pampas to southern Bolivia and Northeast Brazil. There is only a single recognised species, Morenelaphus brachyceros. It was a large deer, with some specimens estimated to exceed 200 kilograms in body mass. The antlers were over 70 cm in length, and are superficially similar those of deer belonging to the subfamily Cervinae, like red deer. Fossils of the genus have been recovered from the Agua Blanca, Fortín Tres Pozos and Luján Formations of Argentina, the Ñuapua Formation of Bolivia, Santa Vitória do Palmar in southern Brazil, Paraguay and the Sopas Formation of Uruguay.

<i>Megaceroides algericus</i> Extinct species of deer

Megaceroides algericus is an extinct species of deer known from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene of North Africa. It is one of only two species of deer known to have been native to the African continent, alongside the Barbary stag, a subspecies of red deer. It is considered to be closely related to the giant deer species of Eurasia.

<i>Euprox</i> Extinct genus of mammals

Euprox is an extinct genus of deer that lived in Eurasia during the Miocene.


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