Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Antlers, the bony weapons of offence and defence on the heads of deer, as distinguished from the horns of other ruminants. These weapons, which, as a general rule, are shed at the close of the rutting season, and renewed in the following spring, are outgrowths from the frontal bones, covered at first with a soft integument known as "velvet," which dries up and peels off when the antler is formed. Antlers are the distinguishing ornament of the males, except in the Reindeer (Cervus tarandus), the female of which carries them in form resembling, but smaller than, those of the male, and in the Chinese Deer (Hydropotes inermis), in both sexes of which they are wanting. Each antler consists of a main stem or beam, and usually of one or more branches or tines. In the spring of the year after birth the beam only is developed, but in the next year the renewed beam throws out a branch - the brow-tine, to which the name antler was formerly confined. In the fourth year other tines are developed above the brow-tine, and so on, the antlers in many deer increasing in complexity after each successive fall, till more than sixty tines have been counted on the head of a red deer. In the fallow deer the beam is palmated or flattened out, as it was also in the extinct Irish Elk. Deer in which the permanent condition of the antlers was the same as that of deer of the third and fourth years described above, have been found in Miocene and Pliocene strata respectively - a fact worth noting in support of the theory that the history of the evolution of the individual is the history of the evolution of the race.