Deers or true deer are hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the red deer, the fallow deer and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), white-tailed deer, the roe deer, and the moose. Male deer of all species (except the Chinese water deer) as well as female reindeer, grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned antelope, which are part of a different family (Bovidae) within the same order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla). The musk deer (Moschidae) of Asia and chevrotains (Tragulidae) of tropical African and Asian forests are separate families that are also in the ruminant clade Ruminantia. They are not especially closely related to Cervidae.
Deer appear in art from Paleolithic cave paintings onwards, and they have played a role in mythology, religion, and literature throughout history, as well as in heraldry, such as red deer that appear in the coat of arms of Åland. Their economic importance includes the use of their meat as venison, their skins as soft, strong buckskin, and their antlers as handles for knives. Deer hunting has been a popular activity since at least the Middle Ages and remains a resource for many families today. The word deer was originally broad in meaning, becoming more specific with time. Old English deor and Middle English der meant a wild animal of any kind. Cognates of Old English deor in other dead Germanic languages have the general sense of animal, such as Old High German tior, Old Norse djur or dyr, Gothic dius, Old Saxon dier, and Old Frisian diar. This general sense gave way to the modern English sense by the end of the Middle English period, around 1500.
All modern Germanic languages save English and Scots retain the more general sense, for example, German Tier and Norwegian dyr mean animal. For many types of deer in modern English usage, the male is a buck and the female a doe, but the terms vary with dialect, and according to the size of the species. The male red deer is a stag, while for other large species the male is a bull, the female a cow, as in cattle. In older usage, the male of any species is a hart, especially if over five years old, and the female is a hind, especially if three or more years old. The young of small species is a fawn and of large species a calf. A very small young may be a kid. A castrated male is a havier. A group of any species is a herd. The adjective of relation is Cervine, like the family name Cervidae, this is from Latin, Cervus, meaning Stag or Deer.
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