Sunday, August 21, 2011
Antlers are made up of a honeycombed bone like tissue. The mounting points on the heads of deer from which the antlers grow are called pedicles. The antlers break off (are shed) from these pedicles. Pedicles appear on a young deer's forehead during his first year. The next year, he will develop small shafts, and by year three the first "branch" will appear. As the deer matures the antlers will lengthen and develop additional branches. You can tell the age of a deer just by counting the branches. While in the growth phase, the antlers are covered in "velvet", a layer of skin that supplies the budding antlers with the nutrients needed to build the bone mass. The antlers will grow rapidly for 2-4 months. When the velvet is no longer needed, a ring at the bottom of the antler shaft forms and cuts off the supply of blood and nutrients. The velvet withers and begins to fall off. The whole process is repeated every year for the rest of his life.