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This article is about the ruminant animal. For other uses, see Deer (disambiguation).
"Fawn" and "Stag" redirect here. For other uses, see Fawn (disambiguation) and Stag (disambiguation).
Temporal range: Early Oligocene–Recent
Male (Stag Red Deer)
Range of the Deer, all species
Deer (singular and plural) are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer (caribou), fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species (except the Chinese water deer) and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned animals such as antelope; these are in the same order as deer and may bear a superficial resemblance. The musk deer of Asia and water chevrotain (or mouse deer) of tropical African and Asian forests are not usually regarded as true deer and form their own families, Moschidae and Tragulidae, respectively.
[hide] 1 Terminology
3 Biology 3.1 Antlers
3.2 Colour 3.2.1 Piebald deer
3.2.2 White deer
4 Economic significance
5 Taxonomy 5.1 Extant subfamilies, genera and species
5.2 Extinct subfamilies, genera and species
5.3 Hybrid deer
6 Cultural significance 6.1 Heraldry
6.2 Literature and art
7 See also
9 External links
Deer grazing at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
The word "deer" was originally broad in meaning, but became more specific over time. In Middle English der (Old English dēor) meant a wild animal of any kind. This was as opposed to cattle, which then meant any sort of domestic livestock that was easy to collect and remove from the land, from the idea of personal-property ownership (rather than real estate property) and related to modern chattel (property) and capital. Cognates of Old English dēor in other dead Germanic languages have the general sense of "animal", such as Old High German tior, Old Norse djur or dȳr, Gothic dius, Old Saxon dier, and Old Frisian diar.
This general sense gave way to the modern sense in English, by the end of the Middle English period around 1500. However, all modern Germanic languages save English and Scots retain the more general sense: for example, German Tier, Alemannic Diere or Tiere, Pennsylvania Dutch Gedier, Dutch dier, Afrikaans dier, Limburgish diere, Norwegian dyr, Swedish djur, Danish dyr, Icelandic dýr, Faroese dýr, West Frisian dier, and North Frisian diarten, all of which mean "animal", contrary to south European language: Dama in Latin or daim in French mean "fallow deer" only.
For most deer in modern English usage, the male is called a "buck" and the female is a "doe", but the terms vary with dialect, and especially according to the size of the species. For many larger deer the male is a "stag", while for other larger deer the same words are used as for cattle: "bull" and "cow". The male Red Deer is a "hart", especially if more than five years old, and the female is a "hind", especially if three or more years old; both terms can also be used for any species of deer, and were widely so used in the past. Terms for young deer vary similarly, with that of most being called a "fawn" and that of the larger species "calf"; young of the smallest kinds may be a kid. A group of deer of any kind is a...