UCL News


Extinct giant deer's descendant found in UK

19 September 2005

UCL scientists have found that the closest living relative to the extinct Irish Elk (giant deer) lives on our shores.

The team tested for DNA and skeletal features to prove that the giant deer - which roamed across Europe and Siberia with prehistoric man and is the subject of numerous cave drawings - has its DNA in common with the fallow deer, one of the most widespread deer in the UK since their introduction by the Normans in the 11th century.

The results, published online by 'Nature', contradict recent morphological studies (looking at skeletal features) which placed the giant deer closer to the living red deer. Professor Adrian Lister and Dr Ian Barnes (UCL Biology), prove the link with the fallow deer by basing their findings on DNA sequence evidence taken from the long-extinct deer and an analysis of the key characteristics it has in common with modern deer.

Link:Press release