Extinct Deer Species
Some species of deer that have been identified are no longer with us. Some of them have been gone for millions of years. For various reasons they weren’t able to adapt well enough to their changing environment to continue on. One of them is the Irish Elk who is believed to be very closely related to the Red Deer.
The Red Deer is now on the Least Concern list, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be in danger. This has led many experts to believe that there is a connection there genetically that may prevent them from being able to successfully thrive in their known habitat. The hope is that by further investigating what has occurred with the Irish Elk we can have some answers about how to better help the Red Deer to increase its population before it is too late. We definitely don’t want to see them become a deer that is no longer living on Earth, only a memory and found in books and pictures.
In 2005 a very fascinating discovery was located. It involved a giant deer that was frozen and well preserved from the Ice Age. The antlers on this deer spanned about 12 feet! It is believed that these remains are those of an Irish Elk. That helps to give some credit to the theory that the size of the Elk species become smaller due to evolution so that they had a better chance of being able to survive. Based in the DNA remains of this discovery, it is believed that the Irish Elk became extinct about 8 million years ago.
The Schomburgk’s Deer is once lived in Thailand along the plains. If you haven’t seen photos of it, you should search online for them. Many believe this is one of the most beautiful of all deer with its coloring and stature. Sadly, the end of the Schomburgk’s Deer occurred in 1938. These animals were hunted needlessly to the point that they weren’t able to recover. In 1932 it was believed that they weren’t around any more but then a few were noticed here and there.
Even though there were some initial efforts to breed them in captivity to increase numbers the efforts weren’t enough. There was too much of a demand for them out there among villagers for meat. In these areas of Thailand the people are very poor so their ultimate survival was much more important to them than that of any particular deer species in the wild.
It is believed that there are several more extinct deer species out there that we don’t even know about. Yet we may discover them at some point in time due to the new fossils that come into the picture. Thanks to DNA testing it is possible to find out of such remains are of unknown species or those that we already have a record of.
The fact that there are some known extinct deer species should make us very cautious. Humans tend to invade the space of all the different living species of deer out there. As a result it can greatly upset the natural balance of things. Those efforts can result in some of the species we have right now becoming endangered. Once their population drops quite low it can take a very long time to get it to increase again.
By paying attention to the overall population of deer species in any give location, experts can help to pinpoint problem areas. They are able to identify locations where deer have been highly susceptible to disease and other problems that can kill large numbers of them in a very short period of time.
(Painter artist: Charles R. Knight)