Bretzia pseudalces

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Bretzia pseudalces
Temporal range: Early Pliocene
~4.9–3.6 Ma
Reconstruction of Bretzia pseudalces skull and antlers
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Bretzia
B. pseudalces
Binomial name
Bretzia pseudalces
Fry & Gustafson, 1974

Bretzia pseudalces, is a species of deer from the extinct genus Bretzia It is endemic to North America, with fossils found in the Ringold Formation in Washington.

Taxonomy and evolution[edit]

The genus Bretzia was named in 1974 by paleontologist Eric Paul Gustafson and his colleague Willis Fry. It was named after geologist J. Harlan Bretz. Bretzia pseudalces is notable for being one of the first deer to live in North America, and one of the earliest ancestors to all New World deer.[1] Fossils of sister species Bretzia nebrascensis has been found in Nebraska and South Dakota.[2]


Bretzia pseudalces is known from fossils of its jaws, teeth, leg bones, vertebrae, and antlers, and overall had approximately the same body size as a modern mule deer.[1] However, it is easily distinguished by its dramatic antlers, which form a large palmate structure from a single anterior tine and posterior beam, superficially resembling a modern moose antlers.[3]


Bretzia pseudalces fossils are found with Teleoceras, Platygonus and Megatylopus, indicating they lived in the same space.[3] The environment would have been mild and temperate, but seasonal,[4] allowing for water levels to rise and fall. The majority of B. pseudalces fossils recovered from White Bluffs in the Ringold formation were degraded to various degrees, and bones of fish and small rodents were most commonly found with them, indicating that they were buried in silt and mud from riparian areas, including marshes or oxbow lakes.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Paleo Profile: The False Moose". National Geographic. 2015-10-12. Retrieved 2023-11-25.
  2. ^ Gunnell, Gregg F.; Foral, Alan (1994). "New Species of Bretzia (Cervidae; Artiodactyla) from the Latest Pleistocene or Earliest Holocene of Nebraska and South Dakota". Journal of Mammalogy. 75 (2): 378–381. doi:10.2307/1382556. ISSN 0022-2372. JSTOR 1382556.
  3. ^ a b c Gustafson, Eric Paul (2015). "An Early Pliocene North American Deer: Bretzia pseudalces, Its Osteology, Biology, and Place in Cervid History". S2CID 83622137. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Gustafson, Eric Paul (May 2015). "Bassariscus from the Early Pliocene of Washington". Northwest Science. 89 (2): 129–135. doi:10.3955/046.089.0204. ISSN 0029-344X. S2CID 83532330.