C Cervidae. This family is of much greater importance than that of the Tragulidae, including as it does all the true Deer. They are distinguished from the other Ruminants chiefly by the nature of the horns, which are wanting in the genera Moschus, Hydropotes, and Lophotragus. With the single exception of the Reindeer, these appendages are confined to the males amongst the Cervidae, and do not occur in the females. They do not consist, as in the succeeding group, of a hollow sheath of horn surrounding a central bony core, nor are they permanently retained by the animal. On the other hand, the horns - or, as they are more properly called, the antlers - of the Cervidae are deciduous, and are solid. They are bony throughout, and are usually more or less branched (fig. 410), and they are annually shed and annually reproduced at the breeding season. They increase in size and in the number of branches every time they are reproduced, until in the old males they may attain an enormous size. The antlers are carried upon the frontal bone, and are produced by a process not at all unlike that by which injuries of osseous structures are made good in man. At first the antlers are covered with a sensitive hairy skin or "velvet"; but as development proceeds, the vessels of the skin are gradually obliterated, and the skin dies and peels off; a bony ridge or "burr" being formed on the antler just above its base of attachment to the frontal bone.
Fig. 409. - Side-view of the skull of the Roebuck (Capreolus capraea).
In all the Deer there is a sebaceous gland, called the "lachrymal sinus," or "larmier," which is placed beneath each eye, and secretes a strongly-smelling waxy substance.
When fully developed, the antlers of the Deer consist of a main stem or "beam," carrying one or more branches or "tynes." In the second year after birth, when the antlers are first produced, and in a few Deer throughout life, the antler consists only of the "beam," and is dagger-shaped and unbranched, the animal being known now as a "brocket." In the horns of the next year, the antler develops a basal branch or " brow-tyne." In the antlers of the next year there is produced above the brow-tyne a second branch or " tres-tyne," which is directed forwards, the hinder portion of the beam constituting the "royal." If the antler develops beyond this point, it is by the more or less complex branching of these two divisions of the beam, the "royal tyne," in particular, being very liable to become divided in successive years. The following are the principal types of antlers among the Deer:
(B.) Rucervine type. - The two primary divisions of the beam above the brow-tyne again bifurcated, and both divisions approximately equal, as in the Rucervus Schomburgki of Siam (fig. 410, B). In a modification of this type, the royal tyne is reduced in size (fig. 410, C), and the tres-tyne is large ; while in a still more extreme type, the royal tyne is reduced to a mere snag.
(C.) Elaphine type. - Brow-tyne reduplicated (by the presence of a "bez-tyne"); the royal tyne large and divided. This type occurs in the Red
Fig. 410. - A, Antler of the "Rusine" type (Sambur Deer); B, Antler of the "Ru-cervine" type (Rucervus Schomburgki); C, Modified Rucervine type of Antler (Rucervus Duvaucelli) in which the "royal" tyne is reduced in size; D, Antler of the "Capreoline" type (Capreolus capraea); E, Antler of the Muntjak (Cervus muntjak); F, Antler of the Red-deer (Cervus elaphus) of the second year ; G, Antler of the full-grown Red-deer, showing the "elaphine" type.
Deer (Cervus elaphus, fig. 410, F and G). In the "sub-elaphine" type (as in the Cervus sika of Japan), the brow-tyne is simple.
(D.) Capreoline type. - The beam dividing into a short anterior and a longer posterior branch, the latter, when fully developed, again bifurcated at its extremity (fig. 410, D). This type of antler occurs in the Roebuck (Capreolus capraea).
(E.) Type of the Muntjak. - Antler supported upon an osseous pedicle arising from the frontal bone; a short brow-tyne; the beam undivided. Occurs only in the Muntjak (Cervus muntjak).
The Cervidae, are very generally distributed, but no member of the group has hitherto been discovered in either Australia or South Africa, their place in the latter continent seeming to be taken by the nearly-allied Antelopes (distinguished by their hollow horns). Africa, in fact, has no Deer except the Barbary Deer alone, and this occurs north of the Sahara only.
Very many species of Cervidae are known, and it is not possible to allude to more than a few of the more familiar and important forms. Three species occur in Britain - namely, the Roebuck, Red-deer, and Fallow-deer, the last being a doubtful native. The Roebuck (Capreolus capraea) was once very generally distributed over Britain, but is almost confined to the wilder parts of Scotland at the present day. It is of small size, and ranges over Northern Europe and Asia. The Red-deer or Stag (Cervus elaphus) is a much larger species, with well-developed spreading antlers. The Red-deer of Britain is represented in North America by a still larger species, known as the Wapiti (Cervus Canadensis).
The third British species is the Fallow-deer (Dama platyceros), characterised by the fact that the antlers are palmated - that is, dilated towards their extremities. It is a doubtful native, and is never found in a wild state at the present day. Allied to the Fallow-deer is a gigantic extinct species, the Megaceros Hibernicus, which inhabited Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, and probably the greater part of Europe, up to a comparatively modern date, probably having survived into the human period. It is often, but incorrectly, spoken of as the Irish "Elk," but it is really a genuine Stag. The animal was of very great size, and was furnished with enormous spreading and palmate antlers, which measure from ten to twelve feet between the tips.
Of all the Deer, the largest living form is the true Elk (Alces palmatus), which is generally distributed over the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and America, being often spoken of as the Moose. The antlers in the Elk are of a very large size, and are very broad, terminating in a series of points along their outer edges.
The only completely domesticated member of the Cervidae is the Reindeer (Cervus tarandus), which is remarkable for the fact that the female is furnished with antlers similar to, but smaller than, those of the males. At the present day the Reindeer (if the Caribou be regarded as distinct) is exclusively confined to the extreme north of Europe and Asia, abounding especially in Lapland. Remains, however, of the Reindeer are known to occur over the greater part of Europe, extending as far south, at any rate, as the Alps, and occurring also in Britain. From this fact, taken along with many others, the existence of an extremely cold climate over the greater part of Europe at a comparatively recent period may be safely inferred. The Reindeer lives chiefly upon moss and a peculiar kind of lichen (Lichen rangiferina), and they are extensively used by the Laplanders both as beasts of burden and as supplying food. The "Caribou " of North America, if not absolutely identical with the Reindeer, would seem to be at most a well-marked variety of it.
The so-called "Brockets," such as the "Guazu-pita" (Subulo rufus) of South America, have simple horns in the form of a stiletto ; whilst the singular Muntjak of India, Burmah, China, and the Indian Archipelago has the horns supported on long bony pedicles springing from the frontal bone; and the males have large upper canines.
The true Musk-deer (Moschus moschiferns) possess no horns, and the males have a musk-gland. There are canine teeth in both jaws, and the upper canines of the males have the form of long tusks. The Musk-deer are elegant little animals, which agree with the typical Deer in the fact that they have spotted young, and that the placenta is cotyledonary, whilst they depart from the ordinary cervine type in the absence of antlers. They inhabit Central Asia.
The curious Water-deer (Hydropotes) of China is related to Moschus, and also has no horns. Another curious Chinese form is the Elaphurus, in which there is a long tufted tail, and the antlers, in place of an anterior basal branch, possess a long posterior branch, the end of which is dilated and prolonged into several short points.