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Temporal range: Miocene
Climacoceras gentryi e.jpg
Comparison of Palaeotragus (center) with Climacoceras
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Superfamily: Giraffoidea
Family: Climacoceratidae
Hamilton, 1978

Climacoceratidae ("ladder horns") is a family of superficially deer-like artiodactyl ungulates which lived in the Miocene era in Africa. They are close to the ancestry of giraffes, with some genera, such as Prolibytherium, originally identified as being giraffes.

The climacoceratids, namely members of what is now the type genus Climacoceras, were originally placed within the family Palaeomerycidae, and then within Giraffidae. In 1978, W. D. Hamilton erected a new family, placing it close to Giraffidae.

They differ from giraffes in that their antler-like ossicones are derived from different bones.


  • MacInnes, D. G. 1936, "A new genus of fossil deer from the Miocene of Africa", Journal of the Linnean Society, Zoology 39: 521-530.
  • Hamilton, W. R., 1978, "Cervidae and Palaeomerycidae", 495-508, in Maglio, V. J. & Cooke, H. B. S., (eds.) "Evolution of African mammals", Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England, 1978, xiv-641