The only known skull of a Santuccimeryx, which existed about 32 million years ago. Credit: National Park Service

Researchers Found Remains of a Tiny Hornless Deer

It existed about 32 million years ago.

A team of researchers say they found a new genus of deer within Badlands National Park. According to Thursday's announcement, they found fossil remains of a tiny, hornless deer that existed about 32 million years ago.

They named the new genus "Santuccimeryx," after a senior paleontologist on the research team. Vincent L. Santucci has been working for the Geologic Resources Division of the National Park Service since 1985.

In the announcement, Mattison Shreero, one of the head researchers, shared the scientific details, saying the Santuccimeryx connects to two other extinct animals separated by about 10 million years. And because the Santuccimeryx doesn't neatly belong to either, it gets its own genus.


An artist's rendering of the Santuccimeryx, a tiny, hornless deer that's been extinct for millions of years. Credit: National Park Service

Shreero called the discovery "citizen science" because the first and only known skull of a Santuccimeryx, which prompted the research, was submitted by a visitor site report in 2016. "If somebody had walked away with it, or if they just hadn't reported it and it had eroded away, we would have never known about it," she said.

Anyone can submit a visitor site report if they find something in the park they think might be a fossil or an artifact.