Thursday, May 24, 2007

New data on the Late Pleistocene Cretan deer Candiacervus sp. II

For our museum, we mounted a skeleton of the endemic Late Pleistocene Cretan deer Candiacervus sp. II (Liko Cave), using bones of different individuals. This composite skeleton contributes to the study of taxonomy of insular ungulates as it reveals some additional features that were not detected in the isolated elements. Candiacervus sp. II differs from all known recent and extinct mainland deer, mainly in its proportions. Although its considerably shortened distal limbs were already noted in the past, Candiacervus sp. II now appears at the same time to have had a more or less normal vertebral column length relative to continental large deer, and moderately upwards curved lumbar section, both features reminding us more of the insular dwarf bovid Myotragus than of the mainland small deer Axis axis. Combined with an increased massivity of all bones and pronounced muscle scars, this change in body proportions appears to indicate that Candiacervus sp. II evolved towards the niche of goat-like bovids in rocky environments. Other additional diagnostic features are the horizontally directed transversal processus of the vertebras, fusion of the lateral metacarpal to the main metacarpal, a tail length of ten vertebras, a more pronounced difference between anterior and posterior hooves, and the presence of lateral toes upto the third phalanx, anterior as well as posterior.

Read more in VAN DER GEER A.A.E., DE VOS J., LYRAS G.A., DERMITZAKIS M.D. (2006). New data on the Pleistocene Cretan deer Candiacervus sp. II (Mammalia, Cervinae). Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 256: 131-137. For a pdf, send an e-mail to For more Candiacervus publications, visit our websites at and

For more general info on the extinct Cretan deer, see

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