AsianScientist (Feb. 6, 2015) – Scientists have discovered a new species of muntjac deer, Euprox grandis sp. nov., the largest muntjac deer found to date. The study documenting the finding has been published in the journal Zookeys.
Muntjac, also known as barking deer, are the oldest subfamily of deer. The Euprox genus existed in the Miocene period (5 to 23 million years ago) and was discovered in Germany in 1928. Several species of Euprox have been reported in China, but only based on rare or fragmentary fossils where the skull was not found associated with antlers.
Recently, Dr. Hou Sukuan from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences collected a skull and a pair of antlers from the same individual at the Linxia Basin.
The antlers, though broken at the insertion of the pedicle, preserve a clear fracture surface on the left antler pedicle, which matches the fracture on the skull exactly, indicating the antlers belong to the same individual as the skull. The fossil discovery allowed him to determine the exact position and direction of the antlers and make an accurate measurement of the length of the pedicle.
Compared to other closely related species, the E. grandis skull length is about twice that of Muntiacus reevesi, 150 percent that of M. muntjak, and the cheek teeth about 115-120 percent of E. robustus.
In order to understand the phylogenetic relationship between E. grandis and other deer, Hou performed a cladistic analysis. The results showed that E. grandis may be closely related to modern day muntjacs.
The article can be found at: Hou (2015) A New Species of Euprox (Cervidae, Artiodactyla) from the Upper Miocene of the Linxia Basin, Gansu Province, China, with Interpretation of its Paleoenvironment.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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