Antler Photograph Suggests Schomburgk's Deer Lived 50 Years Past Extinction Date

Posted on September 6, 2019

Antlers believed to be from a Schomburgk's deer

The Schomburgk's deer (Rucervus schomburgki) was believed to be extinct in 1938. However, recent analysis of a photograph of fresh antlers from 1991 suggests the deer did not go extinct and may still be alive today.

The deer was believed to have been hunted to extinction. The antlers obtained from a shop in northern Laos were photographed by United Nations agronomist Laurent Chaze in 1991. Researchers believe the antlers belonged to a Schomburgk's deer because of their widely spreading basket-shaped, hyper-branched structure.

Gary Galbreath, professor of biological sciences at Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, says in the announcement, "The relative antiquity of the antler specimens can be assessed by the materials, such as dried marrow, still adhering to them. Even the blood was still reddish; it would become black with increased age. In the tropics, the antlers would not continue to look this way even within a matter of months."

This video shows some photographs of the deer which was native to central Thailand.



Research Paper: Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society

Image: Gary Galbreath/Northwestern University