More complex than previously thought: The history of fallow deer translocations dates back to the Neolithic Age

  • An international team of researchers is shedding light on the migration history of fallow deer in Europe using DNA analyses of archaeological fallow deer finds and modern populations.
  • Fallow deer was introduced into southern and western Europe since the Stone Age, often by sea. Some fallow deer populations were translocated from Anatolia.
  • The complex anthropogenic distribution history of fallow deer populations in Europe raises fundamental questions about the status of today’s populations as native species worthy of protection.

The new study provides deep insights into the shared past of fallow deer and humans and their role in human societies. Using DNA analyses, the researchers can show for the first time where past and present fallow deer populations originated and where they spread with human involvement and settled permanently under their protection.

More than 40 scientists were involved in the study, including the archaeozoologist Prof. Joris Peters, Director of the State Collection of Palaeoanatomy Munich (SNSB-SPM) and Chair of Palaeoanatomy, Domestication Research and History of Veterinary Medicine, LMU Munich. The study has been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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