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. stavropolensis is known from the early Pleistocene epoch of Southwestern Russia. It’s one of the earliest known species of the Megaloceros genus and it was a medium-sized species within the genus. Its antlers resembled that of Dama deer species, like the Fallow Deer. Titov & Shvyreva (2016) regard the species as a transitional form between the large M. giganteus and the smaller Pliocene species Arvernoceros ardei.
Titov & Shvyreva, 2016
Titov, V. V., & Shvyreva, A. K. (2016). Deer of the genus Megaloceros (Mammalia, Cervidae) from the Early Pleistocene of Ciscaucasia. Paleontological Journal, 50(1), 87-95.