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Antler biology

Deer antlers are bony outgrowths of the skull. Deer antler tissue is nevertheless very different to the skull in both structure and composition.

Key points

The growing tip of the antler is composed of various types of cells and is covered by a layer of tissue. The lower (non-growing) regions of the growing antler are composed of further types of cells again, as shown in the following diagram.

Each year, antlers drop off and fully regenerate in a growth cycles.  

Antlers do not grow directly from deer skulls. Instead, they emanate from the top of permanent bumps on the head called pedicles.

Antler biology
Antler growing cycles
First antlers
Subsequent antlers

More resources

For a detailed discourse on the science of antler growth, see Antler Growth: Nutritional and Endocrine Factors Fennessy, P.F. and Suttie, J.M.

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