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DescriptionMule Deer live in a broad range of habitats - forests, deserts, and brushlands. Mountain populations migrate to higher elevation in warmer months, looking for nutrient-rich new-grown grasses, twigs, and shrubs. They maintain separate summer and winter ranges, connected by a migratory pathway. In milder climates, they do not migrate. They live in small social groups of about three, except during the winter, when large groups may come together to feed in open meadows. Females tend to stay close to where they were born. Males disperse farther, establish their own territories, and compete for access to females during the October and November breeding season. The males lose their antlers after breeding and grow new ones yearly, with each set becoming larger than the previous one. Newborns, with spotted coats, are well-camouflaged.
Adaptation: The remarkable evolution of running adaptations is evident in comparing the same (homologous) wrist and hand bones of the Mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus (image on the left), with a primitive type of versatile hand, like that of a Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus (image on the right).
Mammal Species of the World
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