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  • F.T. Last

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Robert Burns’ poem ‘My Heart's in the Highlands’ confirms that deer have been an important element of the Scottish Highlands for many years. But, what is distinctive about them? They can be separated from other vertebrates by an array of characteristic features including the absence of a gall-bladder, the doubling of the lachrymal orifice and the development of deciduous bony outgrowths of the frontal base of the skull—the antlers. In his paper, Lincoln discusses the shedding and regeneration of antlers with associated spring minimal, and autumn maximal, concentrations of testerone. He also describes how, in most young stags, antler formation will proceed unaided with successive annual developments being triggered by a healing response to the wound formed when the old antlers are cast. In other congenitally antler-less stags (hummels), it seems that antler formation can be induced in perpetuity by wounding antler pedicels, each of a pair needing to be damaged separately.

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* Names in italics refer to papers in this volume.

Perspective

  • F.T. Last

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