1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Muntjac

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
For works with similar titles, see Muntjac.

MUNTJAC, the Indian name of a small deer typifying the genus Cervulus, all the members of which are indigenous to the southern and eastern parts of Asia and the adjacent islands, and are separated by marked characters from all their allies. For the distinctive features of the genus see Deer. As regards general characteristics, all muntjacs are small compared with the majority of deer, and have long bodies and rather short limbs and neck. The antlers of the bucks are small and simple; the main stem or beam, after giving off a short brow-tine, inclining backwards and upwards, being unbranched and pointed, and when fully developed curving inwards and somewhat downwards at the tip. These small antlers are supported upon pedicles, or processes of the frontal bones, longer than in any other deer, the front edges of these being continued downwards as strong ridges passing along the sides of the face above the eyes. From this feature the name rib-faced deer has been suggested for the muntjac. The upper canine teeth of the males are large and sharp, projecting outside the mouth as tusks, and loosely implanted in their sockets. In the females they are much smaller.


Britannica Muntjac.jpg

The Indian Muntjac (Cervulus muntjac).


Muntjacs are solitary animals, even two being rarely seen together. They are fond of hilly ground covered with forests, in the dense thickets of which they pass most of their time, only coming to the skirts of the woods at morning and evening to graze. They carry the head and neck low and the hind-quarters high, their action in running being peculiar and not elegant, somewhat resembling the pace of a sheep. Though with no power of sustained speed or extensive leaping, they are remarkable for flexibility of body and facility of creeping through tangled underwood. A popular name with Indian sportsmen is "barking deer," on account of the alarm-cry—a kind of short shrill bark, like that of a fox, but louder. When attacked by dogs, the males use their sharp canine teeth, which inflict deep and even dangerous wounds.

In the Indian muntjac the height of the buck is from 20 to 22 in.; allied types, some of which have received distinct names, occur in Burma and the Malay Peninsula and Islands. Among these, the Burmese C. muntjac grandicornis is noteworthy on account of its large antlers. The Tibetan muntjac (C. lachrymans), from Moupin in eastern Tibet and Hangchow in China, is somewhat smaller than the Indian animal, with a bright reddish-brown coat. The smallest member of the genus (C. reevesi) occurs in southern China and has a reddish-chestnut coat, speckled with yellowish grey and a black band down the nape. The Tenasserim muntjac (C. feae), about the size of the Indian species, is closely allied to the hairy-fronted muntjac (C. crinifrons) of eastern China, but lacks the tuft of hair on the forehead. The last-mentioned species, by its frontal tuft, small rounded ears, general brown coloration, and minute antlers, connects the typical muntjacs with the small tufted deer or tufted muntjacs of the genus Elaphodus of eastern China and Tibet. These last have coarse bristly hair of a purplish-brown colour with light markings, very large head-tufts, almost concealing the minute antlers, of which the pedicles do not extend as ribs down the face. They include E. cephalophus of Tibet, E. michianus of Ningpo, and E. ichangensis of the mountains of Ichang.

(R. L.*)