Linzey, Donald W. Wytheville Community College, Wytheville, Virginia.
- Distribution and habitat
- North American deer
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The name for members of a significant family (Cervidae) of 41 species of antler-bearing, ruminant, even-toed ungulates (order Artiodactyla). These mammals vary in size from small and delicate to large and massive, and they range from the dimensions of a rabbit to those of a large horse. Members of this family include the musk deer, Chinese water deer, barking deer (muntjac), fallow deer, axis deer, sambar deer, sika, red deer, roe deer, American wapiti (elk), white-tailed deer (Fig. 1), mule deer, black-tailed deer, marsh deer, moose, and caribou (reindeer). The smallest living deer species is the Northern Pudu (Pudu mephistophiles) of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, with a shoulder height of 32–36 cm (12.6–14.2 in.). The largest living species is the Alaskan moose (Alces alces), which stands 140–235 cm (4.6–7.7 ft) at the shoulder, weighs nearly a ton, and has palmate antlers that can span 2 m (6.6 ft). In former times, deer were even larger: the extinct great Irish elk (Megaceros giganteus) had antlers that stretched 3.3 m (10.8 ft) or more from tip to tip. See also: Artiodactyla; Caribou; Moose
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