Irish Elk

Megaloceros giganteus

Resurrected on:

26 aug. 2019

Genus information

The Giant Deer is one of the most famous extinct mammals from the last Ice Age. It lived on the open plains and woodlands of Eurasia, together with mammoths and woolly rhinos. Most members of this genus were extremely large animals with massive antlers of all sorts: from very straight and spiky to huge and flat. Their bodies were built to carry these massive weights, showing huge shoulder and neck muscles. The genus is closely related to the still existing genus of Dama, of which the Fallow Deer is an example. The extinction of the Megaloceros-deer is still debated. Some believe that humans caused their downfall by overhunting, but others favour the change of their environment in which large male animals couldn’t maneuverer through the increasing dense forests with their giant antlers.





Eurasia and Africa

Pleistocene to Holocene

Species information

A total of seven species are currently recognized within the genus, of which M. giganteus, also called Irish Elk, is the largest and most well-studied by far. The species lived throughout Europe and mostly Western Asia, with fossils being found between Western Europe and Kazakhstan. The antlers of this species were massive: from tip to tip, the antlers could grow up to four meters! From multiple cave paintings from early humans, it is known that M. giganteus had a black fur on their shoulders, a black stripe down to their belly and lower neck, a cut-throat stripe on its upper neck and a white patch, surrounded with a black band, around its tail.





Megaloceros giganteus

Blumenbach, 1799


Pleistocene to Holocene




3.2 m

2.1 m

600 kg


Croitor, R. (2018). Plio-Pleistocene Deer of Western Palearctic: Taxonomy, Systematics, Phylogeny.

Size comparison extinct dinosaur animal megafauna

Size comparison

Extinct dinosaur animal megafauna distribution map

Distribution map