Moose muses the viewers
Beyond the Horizon
By Pradeep Kumar
The cervid (deer) family’s extensions are antlers on an animal’s skull. Antlers are a single structure composed of bone, cartilage fibrous tissues, skin, nerves & blood vessels. They are generally found only on males, with the exception of reindeer/caribou. Antlers, shed and regrown each year, function primarily as objects of sexual attraction as well as weapons.
In contrast to antlers, horns found on pronghorns & bovids, like sheep, goats, bison & and cattle, are two-part structures that usually do not shed. A horn’s interior of bone is covered by an exterior sheath made of keratin (the same material as human fingernails and toenails).
Antler comes from old French word antoillier: “Andouiller”, from ant (means before), oeil, (means eye) and (-ier, a suffix indicating an action or state of being), possibly from some form of an unattested Latin word anteocularis, “before the eye” (and applied to the word for “branch” or “horn”).
Antlers are unique to ceravids (deer). The ancestors of deer had tusks (long upper canine teeth). In most species, antlers appear to replace tusks. However, one modern species (water deer) has tusks and no antlers and muntjac has small antlers and tusks. The musk deer, which are not true cervids, also bear tusks in place of antlers.
Antlers are usually found only on males. Only reindeer (known as caribou in North America) have antlers on the females, and these are normally smaller than those of the males. Nevertheless, fertile does from other species of deer have the capacity to produce antlers on occasion, usually due to increased testosterone levels. The “horns” of a pronghorn (which is not a cervid, but a giraffoid) meet some of the criteria of antlers, but are not considered true antlers because they contain keratin.
Stags (male deer) are found in dense riverine forests in high valleys and mountains of Jammu and Kashmir and northern Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it is found primarily in Dachigam National Park where it is protected while elsewhere it is more at risk.
Antelope and deer are native to every continent in the world, some of which are critically endangered species. World’s top 15 largest species of deer and antelope including Pere David Deer, Mule Deer, spotted deer, Bushbuck and topi are as follows:
Giant Eland is the largest species of antelope found in savanna, grassland, woodlands and glades. It is one of the must see African safari animal with more massive spiral horns than other antelope.
Moose is the largest member of deer family mostly found in forest of Canada, Alaska, Finland, Sweden and Norway. It is the tallest mammal in North America, stands six feet tall with huge broad and flat antlers.
Nilgai or blue bull is the largest Indian antelope, endemic to the Indian subcontinent. It is also most commonly seen wild animal in tropical forests of India, found mostly in scrub forests and grassy plains.
Greater Kudu is second largest species of woodland antelope with spectacular spiral horns. The greater kudu is a spectacular mammal and one of two species of kudu, lesser kudu is the other.
Elk or wapiti is second largest land mammals in North America and one of largest species of deer family. The Rocky Mountain elk is one of the subspecies of elk, found in Rocky Mountains of North America.
Sambar Deer is the largest members of deer family, native to Indian subcontinent. It is also the most commonly seen deer species and one of the favorite prey of tigers in India.
Red Deer (red deer stag) is the largest deer species inhabits most of Europen countries and western Asia. It is the 4th largest deer species in the world and various subspecies are known as Corsican red deer and Caspian red deer.
Reindeer is a large species of deer native to mountainous regions of North America and Europe. Arctic and Subarctic people hunt wild reindeer for meat and antlers, though used for transportation and milk.
Giant Sable antelope is a subspecies of sable antelope, evaluated as critically endangered animal endemic to region of Cuango and Luando rivers in Angola. The sable antelope and roan antelope are other two antelope live in savanna.
Barasingha or swamp deer is highly endangered species of deer, distributed in Indian subcontinent. The swamp deer is a large deer found in National Park of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Nyala antelope is found in high altitude of southern Africa and in Kruger National Park. The spiral-horned nyala is middle sized antelope, protected in national parks and sanctuaries of African protected area.
Roan Antelope is one of Africa’s largest savanna antelope, similar in appearance to sable antelope of woodland and grassland. It is one of the world’s largest species of antelope and most formidable African antelopes.
Gemsbok or Oryx gazella is one of the well known species of Oryx, native to Southern Africa and Kalahari Desert. It is the largest species of Oryx and hunted for their spectacular horns.
White Tailed Deer are medium sized species of deer family and largest wild animals in Northern Virginia. The white tailed deer are most widely distributed wild ungulate, found in Rocky Mountains, lower foothills, Plains of United States and South America.
Thorold’s Deer are lives in high altitudes of Tibetan Plateau, found in grassland and forest of Himalayan Plateau. It is one of the largest species of deer in Asia but threatened species of deer.