Deer vs Antelope
Deer and antelope are often confused in identification as some would think that deer is an antelope. This common misunderstanding is because, both these are even-toed ungulates. However, deer is a definite group, while antelopes are a miscellaneous group of animals. Clear understanding about the differences between deer and antelope was the aim of this article.
Deer are ruminants belong to the Family: Cervidae with about extant 62 species. Their habitat ranges vastly from deserts and tundra to rainforests. These terrestrial ruminants naturally range in almost all the continents except Antarctica and Australia. Physical characteristics viz. size and colour differ vastly among species. The weight ranges from 30 to 250 kilograms depending on the species. There are exceptions to both ends of the weight range, as moose could be as high as 430 kilograms and Northern Pudu is about only 10 kilograms. Deer do not have permanent horns, but branched antlers are present, and they shed them annually. Their facial glands in front of the eyes produce pheromones those are useful as landmarks. Deer are browsers and the alimentary tract contains a rumen associated with the liver without a gall bladder. They mate annually and the gestation period is about 10 months varying with the species, larger species have a longer pregnancy. Only the mother provides the parental care for the calves. They live in groups called herds, and forage together. Therefore, whenever a predator gets around, they communicate and alarm to move out as soon as possible. Usually, a deer lives about 20 years.
Antelopes are a miscellaneous group of animals of the Order: Artiodactyla, as they are even-toed undulates. There are 91 species of antelopes including Springbok, Gazelle, Oryx, Impala, and Waterbuck… etc. all the true antelopes are native to Africa and Asia. However, the Pronghorn antelope in North America is not a true antelope because they have branched and annually shed antlers but true antelopes have horns, which they never shed, and unbranched. However, antelopes are not a certain cladistic, but loosely refer to all the Bovines those are neither cattle nor sheep nor goat. Antelopes live in a range of habitats; Oryx lives in deserts, Sitatungas live in semi aquatic environments and Saigas live in extremely cold ecosystems. Nevertheless, most are in African savannahs, and some are in Asia as well. The coat is mostly brown in colour with white or pale bellies and a dark and thick lateral stripe. An adult could weigh around 40 to 60 kilograms. The Lifespan ranges between 10 and 25 years in the wild.
What is the difference between Deer and Antelope?
• Both antelopes and deer are Artiodactyls, but belong to two different families.
• Generally, deer are larger than antelopes.
• Antelopes are natives of Asia and Africa, while deer species are widespread except Australia and Antarctica.
• Antelopes have horns those are permanent and unbranched, and not forked, whereas deer have branched antlers, which are shed annually.
• Diversification is higher among antelopes with the number of species, whereas there are more differences among deer in their size and colour.
Diana Cheverton says
Since you raised the issue of pronghorns not being true antelopes, I think more discussion of this (perhaps in your article on deer) is needed to answer the questions this point automatically raises would be beneficial.