Fallow deer is the common name for species of deer in the genus Dama of subfamily Cervinae.[3]

Fallow deer
Temporal range: Pleistocene–Recent
European fallow deer (D. dama)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Tribe: Cervini
Genus: Dama
Frisch, 1775
Type species
Cervus dama [1]
Linnaeus, 1758
  • Dactyloceros Wagner, 1855
  • Machlis Kaup
  • Palmatus Lydekker, 1898
  • Platyceros Wagner, 1844
  • Platyceros Zimmermann, 1780



The name fallow is derived from the deer's pale brown colour. The Latin word dāma or damma, used for roe deer, gazelles, and antelopes, lies at the root of the modern scientific name, as well as the German Damhirsch, French daim, Dutch damhert, and Italian daino. In Serbo-Croatian, the name for the fallow deer is jelen lopatar ("shovel deer"), due to the form of its antlers. The Modern Hebrew name of the fallow deer is yachmur (יחמור).

Taxonomy and evolution


The genus includes two extant species:

Extant species

Genus DamaFrisch, 1775 – two species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
European fallow deer


Dama dama
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Confirmed native only to Turkey, but possibly native to the Italian Peninsula, the Balkans, and the island of Rhodes in Greece; introduced from Roman times onwards to the rest of Europe, and around the world in more recent times



Persian fallow deer


Dama mesopotamica
(Brooke, 1875)
Iran and Israel; once ranged throughout the Middle East and eastern Turkey



Some taxonomists classify the Persian fallow deer as a subspecies (D. d. mesopotamica),[1] while others, such as the IUCN, treat it as a separate species (D. mesopotamica).[4] Based on genetic evidence, Dama is considered to be closest living relative of the extinct genus Megaloceros.[5] The circumscription of the genus is uncertain, with some authors choosing to include taxa that are otherwise placed in the genus Pseudodama, which may be ancestral to Dama.[6]

The earliest species of Dama appeared around the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary approximately 2.6 million years ago,[7] or around the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene approximately 0.8 million years ago,[8] depending on the species included in the genus. The relationships of most Dama species to each other and to other fossil deer are controversial, with no overall consensus on their relationships, aside the close relationship of D. clactoniana with the living Dama species. The earliest Dama species lack palmate (broad and flattened) antlers, with this trait only developing in D. pelleponesica, D. clactoniana, and the two living species.[6]

Extinct species, based on van der Made et al. 2023:[6]

  • Dama nestii known from the Early Pleistocene of Europe, also assigned to the genus Pseudodama.[7]
  • Dama vallonnetensis known from the Early Pleistocene of Europe,[6] also assigned to Pseudodama.[9]
  • Dama farnetensis known from the Early Pleistocene of Europe,[6] also assigned to Pseudodama.[10]
  • Dama pelleponesica known from the early Middle Pleistocene of Greece, with similar remains referred to as Dama aff. pelleponesica known from the late Middle Pleistocene of Azokh Cave in Azerbaijan. Species not universally recognised as valid.[6]
  • Dama roberti known from the early Middle Pleistocene of Europe.[10]
  • Dama celiae known from the Middle Pleistocene of Spain[6]
  • Dama clactoniana, known from the late Middle Pleistocene of Europe, thought to be the ancestor of the two living species.[6]

Relationships of Dama to other deer species based on mitochondrial DNA.[11]


Hydropotes (water deer)

Capreolus (roe deer)

Alces (moose)

Rangifer (reindeer/caribou)

Odocoileini (brocket deer, mule deer, white tailed deer, etc)

Elaphodus (tufted deer)

Muntiacus (muntjacs)


Rucervus (Schomburgk's deer and barasingha)

Axis (chital, etc)

Dama (Fallow deer)

Megaloceros giganteus (Irish elk)

Elaphurus (Père David's deer)

Panolia (Eld's deer)

Rusa alfredi (Visayan spotted deer)

Rusa marianna (Philippine deer)

Rusa timorensis (Javan rusa)

Rusa unicolor (Sambar deer)

Cervus (red deer, elk, sika deer)


  1. ^ a b Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ "Dama". Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Retrieved 2024-02-04.
  3. ^ "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  4. ^ Saltz, David; Rabiei, Alireza; Daujat, Julie; Baker, Karis; Noam Werner (IUCN SSC Deer SG / General Curator EAZA Deer TAG Chair, The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (July 25, 2015). "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Dama mesopotamica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  5. ^ Immel, Alexander; Drucker, Dorothée G.; Bonazzi, Marion; Jahnke, Tina K.; Münzel, Susanne C.; Schuenemann, Verena J.; Herbig, Alexander; Kind, Claus-Joachim; Krause, Johannes (2015). "Mitochondrial Genomes of Giant Deers Suggest their Late Survival in Central Europe". Scientific Reports. 5 (10853): 10853. Bibcode:2015NatSR...510853I. doi:10.1038/srep10853. PMC 4459102. PMID 26052672.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h van der Made, Jan; Rodríguez-Alba, Juan José; Martos, Juan Antonio; Gamarra, Jesús; Rubio-Jara, Susana; Panera, Joaquín; Yravedra, José (April 2023). "The fallow deer Dama celiae sp. nov. with two-pointed antlers from the Middle Pleistocene of Madrid, a contemporary of humans with Acheulean technology". Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 15 (4). doi:10.1007/s12520-023-01734-3. hdl:10261/307292. ISSN 1866-9557.
  7. ^ a b Cherin, Marco; Breda, Marzia; Esattore, Bruno; Hart, Vlastimil; Turek, Jiří; Porciello, Francesco; Angeli, Giovanni; Holpin, Sofia; Iurino, Dawid A. (2022-08-16). "A Pleistocene Fight Club revealed by the palaeobiological study of the Dama-like deer record from Pantalla (Italy)". Scientific Reports. 12 (1): 13898. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-18091-1. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 9381596. PMID 35974071.
  8. ^ Mecozzi, Beniamino; Sardella, Raffaele; Breda, Marzia (2023-08-09). "Late Early to late Middle Pleistocene medium-sized deer from the Italian Peninsula: implications for taxonomy and biochronology". Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments. 104: 191–215. doi:10.1007/s12549-023-00583-1. hdl:11573/1706615. ISSN 1867-1594.
  9. ^ Azzarà, Beatrice; Breda, Marzia; Cirilli, Omar; Madurell-Malapeira, Joan; Ruzza, Federica; Sorbelli, Leonardo; Tancredi, Domenico; Cherin, Marco (2022). "Vigna Nuova: the first Middle Villafranchian mammal assemblage from the Valdichiana Basin, Perugia (Italy)". Bollettino della Società Paleontologica Italiana. 61 (2): 223–247. doi:10.4435/BSPI.2022.12. ISSN 0375-7633.
  10. ^ a b Breda, Marzia; Lister, Adrian M. (June 2013). "Dama roberti, a new species of deer from the early Middle Pleistocene of Europe, and the origins of modern fallow deer". Quaternary Science Reviews. 69: 155–167. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.01.029.
  11. ^ Tsuboi, Masahito; Kopperud, Bjørn Tore; Matschiner, Michael; Grabowski, Mark; Syrowatka, Christine; Pélabon, Christophe; Hansen, Thomas F. (2024-01-29). "Antler Allometry, the Irish Elk and Gould Revisited". Evolutionary Biology. 51: 149–165. doi:10.1007/s11692-023-09624-1. ISSN 0071-3260.