Adaptive colouration in the European fallow deer (Dama dama)

The menil morph of D. dama is noteworthy in combining classic camouflage colouration (spotted tracts of pelage) with the kind of conspicuous dorsalisation of white ventral parts that we see in Asian wild asses, the springbok, and certain other gazelles.

WINTER PELAGE

Even in individuals lacking much dark trimming on the frontofear, the earstalk, between the ear-feather and the head, tends to be narrowly dark. This tends to make the ears conspicuous in overall dark/pale contrast. Most individuals have limited = minor dark/pale contrast about the nose/mouth/chin/crookofthroat, so that this part of the animal is not accentuated. The ventral surface of the head (between the manidibles) seems, in all individuals in winter pelage, to be paler than the cheeks. However, pale at the crookofthroat is less consistent, being absent in some adult females in winter pelage. Pale at the orbits is overall not an important feature of D. dama in winter pelage. In some individual adult females, there remains a faint horizontal pale stripe on the upper part, but not upper border, of the medium-tone flank-band. The inner surface of the upper hindleg is whitish, with an abrupt border at least halfway to hock-level. However, countershading offers little explanatory value here. I have yet to see an adult male specimen of D. dama in winter pelage with dark rims on the frontofear. In males, pale is better-developed on the ventral part of the neck than in females, in winter pelage. The hard antlers in winter pelage are not conspicuously pale, nor pale-tined.

Posted on March 07, 2024 04:48 AM by milewski milewski

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