National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences | News

Extinct Balkan population of fallow deer introduced by the Romans as far as Britain

19.2.2024 18:30

On 13 February 2024, international media covered two scientific papers published simultaneously in two scientific journals — PNAS and Scientific Reports — on account of their contribution to various aspects of the fallow deer evolution and distribution.

The papers: The 10,000-year biocultural history of fallow deer and its implications for conservation policy and Ancient and modern DNA track temporal and spatial population dynamics in the European fallow deer since the Eemian interglacial provide the most complex study on the subject to date, focusing on the role of man in the species dispersal and the species importance for hunting, for the lifestyle and for the cultural life of human societies since prehistoric times.

Among the authors, leading palaeogeneticists, archaeozoologists and palaeontologists, is Prof. Nikolay Spassov from the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He is also one of the authors of the conceptualisation of the investigation. The papers’ results confirm his assumption that in Europe only in the Balkans a local population of fallow deer had survived since the time of the Ice Age. This population was exterminated by excessive hunting as late as the end of Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The new research shows that it was from this population that the Romans translocated the species all the way to Britain.

Story from National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences | News