The ancestry of the modern Fallow deer, Dama dama, has been tentatively traced back to Pliocene/Early Pleistocene forms referred to ‘Pseudodama’, characterized by unpalmated three- or four-point antlers. By the late Middle Pleistocene, Dama with palmated antlers occurs, as D. dama clactoniana. However, fallow deer from the interim period, the early Middle Pleistocene, are poorly-known. A new specimen from Pakefield (Suffolk, UK), represented by a portion of cranium with a substantial part of both antlers plus a mandible and scapula, is the most complete small deer specimen from the British early Middle Pleistocene (ca. 700 ka). The position and orientation of the basal tine, together with dental characters and mandibular morphology, are typical of fallow deer. The narrow palmation is reminiscent of D. dama clactoniana, but the lack of palmation tines is unique. Moreover, the lack of second (and third) tines in an adult specimen differs from both D. dama dama and D. d. clactoniana, being a primitive character shared with the last representatives of ‘Pseudodama’, which, on the other hand, has a circular beam, lacking any palmation. This combination of features justifies the erection of a new species provisionally placed within the genus Dama, D. roberti n.sp. Another specimen from Soleilhac (Auvergne, France), represented by portion of the two antlers, a mandible and a tibia, shares antler morphology with the Pakefield specimen and can be ascribed to the same new species. Isolated antler and dental remains from coeval British sites are tentatively ascribed to the new species. The new find has implications for the ancestry of modern fallow deer.
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