Taxonomy

Cervalces latifrons belongs to the Alceini tribe, a well-characterised group of deer of as yet unclear origin.

The Alceini probably separated from other deer in the Upper Miocene, but the oldest remains from the Cervalces lineage found so far, date to the Late Pliocene.

The genus Cervalces is represented in Eurasia by three species, with C. latifrons as the largest and most recent one:

  • C. gallicus (Late Pliocene - early Early Pleistocene)
  • C. carnutorum (late Early Pleistocene)
  • C. latifrons (Middle and early Late Pleistocene)

The 3 Eurasian Cervalces species can be considered ‘chronospecies’ of the same phyletic lineage.

Most authors believe this lineage underwent a gradual increase in body size from C. gallicus, through the intermediate C. carnutorum, to C. latifrons, as predicted by the Cope’s rule.

At the same time, remodelling of antler shape took place, with gradual shortening of the beams and enlargement of the palmate portion.

The relationship between Cervalces and the extant species Alces alces, is unclear. The present moose did not evolve from the last Western European representatives of C. latifrons but, most probably, from some coeval eastern European or Asiatic form (i.e. the Siberian subspecies C. latifrons postremus or the imperfectly known Alces brevirostris from Hungary).

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Glossary
Articular facet of the ungueal phalanx

Portion of the phalanx bearing the nails/claws which articulates to the previous finger/toe bones.

Chronospecies

A group of organisms that is derived from its ancestor (and/or develops into its descendant) by a process of slow, steady, evolutionary change and is not regarded as a member of the same species as its ancestor and/or descendant.

Cuneiforms

Bones of the ankle.

Ethology

Scientific study of animal behaviour.

Forbs

Herbaceous flowering plants that are not graminoids (grasses, sedges and rushes). The term is used in vegetation ecology to represent a guild of grassland plant species with broadly similar growth form, which in ecology is often more important than taxonomic relationship.

Holotype

The single specimen designated by an author to formally describe a new species.

Navico-cuboid

Main bone of the ankle of Ruminant animals.

Non-gregarious

Non-social, solitary

Metapodials

Hand and foot bones between the fingers/toes and the wrist/ankle.

Palustrine

Living in a marsh or swamp.

Phalanges

Bones of the fingers and toes.

Phyletic lineage

Ancestor-descendent populations that undergo morphological change over time.

Telmatic vegetation

Vegetation living in the swamp zone of a lake developing into a bog.