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Croitor, Roman (2014): Deer from Late Miocene to Pleistocene of Western Palearctic: matching fossil record and molecular phylogeny data. In: Zitteliana, Vol. B 32: pp. 115-153




This article proposes a brief overview of opinions on cervid systematics and phylogeny, as well as some unresolved taxonomical issues, morphology and systematics of the most important or little known mainland cervid genera and species from Late Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene of Western Eurasia and from Late Pleistocene and Holocene of North Africa. The Late Miocene genera Cervavitus and Pliocervus from Western Eurasia are included in the subfamily Capreolinae. A cervid close to Cervavitus could be a direct forerunner of the modern genus Alces. The matching of results of molecular phylogeny and data from cervid paleontological record revealed the paleozoogeographical context of origin of modern cervid subfamilies. Subfamilies Capreolinae and Cervinae are regarded as two Late Miocene adaptive radiations within the Palearctic zoogeographic province and Eastern part of Oriental province respectively. The modern clade of Eurasian Capreolinae is significantly depleted due to climate shifts that repeatedly changed climate-geographic conditions of Northern Eurasia. The clade of Cervinae that evolved in stable subtropical conditions gave several later radiations (including the latest one with Cervus, Rusa, Panolia, and Hyelaphus) and remains generally intact until present days. During Plio-Pleistocene, cervines repeatedly dispersed in Palearctic part of Eurasia, however many of those lineages have become extinct.