Named By: Scott - 1885.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Cervidae.
Species: C. scotti, C. latifrons.
Size: Around 2 to 2.5 meters long.
Known locations: Across Eurasia and North America.
Time period: Throughout the Pleistocene.
Fossil representation: Multiple specimens
referred to as ‘Stag moose’, Cervalces was a
This means that it is considered to be a deer that adapted body
features that made it resemble a moose. With this in mind Cervalces
is thought to have fulfilled a similar ecological niche to the modern
day moose (Alces alces) and inhabited woodlands
and forests as well
as wading into water to search for suitable vegetation. Of the two
species, C. scotti is more often associated
with North American
fossils, while C. latifrons has a more Eurasian
Principal predators of Cervalces may have included grey wolves (Canis lupus) and dire wolves (Canis dirus), as well as possibly brown bears (Ursus arctos). Grey wolves and brown bears are known to hunt and kill moose today, although brown bears tend to go after smaller juveniles rather than fully grown adults, or alternatively steal the kills of wolves. The dire wolf, being much more heavily built than the grey would have had an even easier time bringing down large prey like Cervalces. Another predator may have been the American lion (Panthera leo atrox) as its close relative the Eurasian cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea) is known to have had a preference for deer like animals, and it is possible that the American lion may have shared this taste in prey. Additionally towards the end of the Pleistocene period, the first human hunters would have also likely targeted Cervalces for food.
Cervalces vanished at the end of the Pleistocene along with most of the other North American megafauna. Several theories from human hunting to habitat change to disease have been proposed as explanation, but what is certain is that whatever happened, it affected all of these animals rather than just a few species. It’s just as possible however that this mass extinction was caused by the combined effects of several factors. There is a popular theory that C. scotti became extinct because of competition from the moose that crossed over Beringia (the Bering land bridge) into North America from Asia. However the fact that this species disappeared at the same time as the other North American megafauna strongly counts against this, although competition with the moose would have increased pressure upon C. scotti, making it more susceptible to the survival conditions of the time.