World's Smallest Deer Discovered
BRONX, New York, June 30, 1999 (ENS) - A new species of deer found in the remote mountains of northern Myanmar (Burma) has been confirmed through DNA testing as the world's smallest deer. An adult deer of the species measures only 20 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 25 pounds.
Biologist Alan Rabinowitz first discovered the "leaf deer" or "leaf mutjac," in 1997 while he was doing field work in Myanmar.
After obtaining specimens from local hunters, Rabinowitz brought samples to New York for DNA analysis. The results of the genetic work, published in the recent issue of the journal "Animal Conservation," confirmed the leaf deer as unique.
Leaf deer (Photo courtesy WCS)
"Through DNA sequencing, we were able to determine that this particular species of mutjac was clearly distinct," said the study's lead author, Dr. George Amato, director for conservation genetics for WCS. "It's a very exciting discovery."
The study, a collaborative effort between the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the American Museum of Natural History's Molecular Systematics Laboratory, represents a relatively new approach to conservation biology, where molecular genetics dovetails with classic field biology to catalog unique wildlife living in some of the world's most remote areas.
Several new large mammal species have been discovered in Southeast Asia in recent years, particularly in the Annamite Mountains of Cambodia and Laos. This in turn has led to increased scientific research in the area. Myanmar, however, remained virtually unstudied by western science for decades, until WCS began surveys in this isolated nation in 1994.
"Perhaps the most important aspect of this discovery is that this new species of mammal was found in another region of Asia outside the Annamites," said Amato.
"This highlights the importance of continuing rigorous biological surveys in relatively unstudied areas. The fact that wildlife, as well as the habitats themselves are currently disappearing at an alarming rate adds a sense of urgency to such research."
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WOW! What a discovery, that's like the stin buck from Africa, but I didn't know that we had something comparable in size here in the US.
NRA Endowment Member
TSRA Life Member
"The way the child is, are his toys..."
A friend of mine got a deer that's the same size.
Guajiro Cubano A.K.A. "Cuban-American Redneck Extraordinaire "
Hehe......a big on my face when I first read about the discovery of this deer in 1999. Back home in the Mtns of Laos, we have been hunting these critters for the last century and I believed they are still being hunted by the locals there. There are hundreds of them running around especially in a clear cut area. They are about the size of a jackrabbit. They have two canine tooth hanging from each side of the upper jaw that are razor sharp. Infact my dad still has a scar on his foot that was a cut from these guys. They are also quick little creatures. I would say they were almost as quick as the Roadrunner in the cartoon show "Coyote and The Roadrunner." We used to hunt them by baiting. The green leaves of a type of big tall tree are like candies to them. With the leaves being so high up in the trees and they don't climb trees, these critters can't get enough of it. The only source they can get these leaves from is in fresh clear cuts and trees knocked down by winds. A hunter could go out, climb up one of these trees, cut a couple of branches, stuck them in the ground, build a little ground blind five or ten yards from it, then sit and wait. Usually it doesn't take very long for the little guys to find the bait especially if you see signs of them. We shoot them with hand made cross-bow. I would like to say they taste like chicken because it's been about 25 years since I've had any taste of them.