Difference Between Antelope and Deer

“A man from a primitive culture who sees an automobile might guess that it was powered by the wind or by an antelope hidden under the car, but when he opens up the hood and sees the engine he immediately realizes that it was designed.” —Michael Behe

In a Nutshell

Antelope and deer appear very similar in appearance, and are thus often confused by nature enthusiasts, hunters or photographers. In fact, they are far more different genetically than you might expect. Deer are cervids, in a family of their own, while antelope are closely related to sheep and goats.

The Whole Bushel

The deer family (Cervidae) comprise a fairly uniform subgroup (family) of Ungulates, which is the order including all cloven hoofed animals. Most of the 47 cervids have a fairly typical deer-like appearance, while dwarf deer and moose tip the two ends of the deer size spectrums.

Antelopes, however, form a far more diverse family of ungulates that are far removed from deer in taxonomic status. In fact, these animals are much more closely related to cows, sheep and goats than deer, and fall under the family Bovidae. These are basically the cow-like animals, comprising 145 incredibly diverse grazing species.

In keeping with this true genetic relationship, antelope may resemble cows much more than deer. The Wildebeest, for example, is actually an antelope. Antelope only inhabit the Old World, and occur primarily in Africa. Deer have a global distribution apart from Australia and Antarctica. North America’s Pronghorn Antelope is not an antelope at all, but a natural oddity in its own family.

Show Me The Proof

Pawnation: Antelope Vs Deer
Pronghorn Antelope

  • There are lots of Mule Deer in my neighborhood, some describe them as Black-Tail deer which are as I understand it, a subset of Mule deer. Either way, it is a joy to see them in the yard, even though they tend to eat the flowers and bushes 🙂

  • I’m watching a doe and her half grown fawn in my garden right now!

  • rhijulbec

    We used to live in ”the country” here in Ontario and had a lovely herd of deer who slept in my lilies and ate all my apples but I figured they were here first, so if I wasn’t fast enough to cut the lilies or harvest the apples that was on me. Beautiful creatures.

  • Enumscratch

    I didn’t even realize people mistook deer for antelope…

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    Antelope. Nice woody sort of phrase don’t you know?

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