cervalces

fact file

Pronounced: sir-VAHL-says

Name means: "Stag Moose"

 

Species: latifrons, scotti, gallicus, carnutorum

Range: Pleistocene (2 mya to recent (10,000 ya) from North America, Europe, and Asia

Size estimate: 8 feet in length, 6 feet in height at shoulder, 8 foot antler-span. Approximately 1 ton in weight.

Discovery: Edward Drinker Cope, 1877

Classification: Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Cervidae

Having attributes in common with both the deer and the moose, Cervalces' name is appropriately a combination of the genus names Cervus - the european red deer, and Alces - the genus commonly known as the moose. Discovered early on in the history of modern paleontology, Cervalces formed one of the initial edge pieces in our understanding of evolution. Its combination of features inferred that it occupied a transitional place in the cervid (deer) family tree. Of interest, the first evidence for Cervalces in North America was discovered by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Though we may look at Cervalces today and muse about its place in our modern understanding of the prehistoric world, our prehistoric ancestors likely looked at Cervalces and mused about its place in their stomachs. The extinction of the stag moose occured in both America and Eurasia suspiciously close to the arrival of humans on the scene. Pressures from human hunting, a changing climate, as well as competition from new, more adapted herbivores all likely contributed to the disappearance of this antlered giant.

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