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
A total of seven species are currently recognized within the genus, of which M. matritensis is known from the Pleistocene epoch of Spain. The species was fairly small compared to other species of the Megaloceros genus and antlers resembled that of a large Red Deer. The species must have been a common species in the area, because many fossils have been found. Many fossils were also associated with early human settlements, so it was probably an important food resource. M. matritensis was one the last members of the Giant Deer lineage that slowly decreased in size during the Pleistocene epoch.
Van der Made, 2019
van der Made, J. (2019). The dwarfed “giant deer” Megaloceros matritensis n. sp. from the Middle Pleistocene of Madrid-A descendant of M. savini and contemporary to M. giganteus. Quaternary International, 520, 110-139.