Relaxed phylogenetics and dating with
In his ) typically reaches less than 100kg (220 lbs); Red stags in Britain and Norway sport thick, dark neck manes, while those in Spain fail to develop any trace of a mane.
Coat colour and differences in the size and shape of the antlers are also often among the characteristics used to distinguish subspecies.
The findings of Dr Pitra and his colleagues require additional study and no such split has been widely accepted.
The terrific variation observed in Red deer throughout their range has lead to the description of many potential subspecies.
Certain aspects of the natural history common to all deer (e.g.
as a subspecies of) the Red deer because, despite various anatomical, biochemical, ecological, behavioural and (more recently) genetic differences, wapiti are able to hybridize successfully -- i.e.
Red deer, as we currently think of them, may actually be as many as three separate species, according to the cytochrome analysis performed by Christian Pitra and his colleagues published in the journal during 2004.
I won’t go into much detail about the findings here, but suffice to say that Dr Pitra and his team found molecular evidence to suggest that Red deer from Central Asia and those from North Africa and Corsica-Sardinia may represent species as distinct from , respectively).
Indeed, it’s worth remembering that what happens in captivity and what happens in the wild may be very different!
The majority of species have been fairly well defined, but there are two in particular that have caused (indeed, are still a source of) much controversy – debate rages over whether the wapiti and Red deer should be considered the same, or distinct, species.
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The wapiti range over much of North America and eastern Asia and are superficially similar to the Red deer of Europe and Asia (an area collectively termed “Eurasia”).