is there a difference between Elk, Reindeer, Moose and Caribou?
- The Wise WolfLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
It depends on where you are in the world. In Europe, elk refers to Alces alces, which is known as the moose in North America. In North America, elk refers to Cervus canadensis, which is called the wapiti in Europe. Reindeer and caribou are the same animal, Rangifer tarandus, but reindeer is generally used in Europe whilst caribou is used in North America.
Here are some images:
Alces alces (moose/elk):
Cervus canadensis (elk/wapiti):
Rangifer tarandus (caribou/reindeer):
Haysoos2, recent genetic analysis shows the elk/wapiti to be a distinct species from the red deer - Cervus canadensis as opposed to Cervus elaphus - though it was once considered a subspecies of the red deer.
EDIT FOR HAYSOOS2: Taxonomy is certainly a tricky thing! We all have our own opinions about it. I wouldn't classify myself as a lumper or a splitter, I tend to evaluate each animal on a species-by-species (or subspecies-by-subspecies) basis. In the case of the elk/wapiti, I feel that full species status is justified, but you are of course entitled to your own opinion.
Also, whilst the word 'wapiti' may be of North American origin, it is not USED in North America. North Americans call the animal elk. Wapiti is used in Europe to differentiate the animal from the species we call elk, Alces alces, which Americans call moose.Source(s): I used to be a zookeeper and have studied animals all my life.
- marcusLv 41 decade ago
Moose are definately different from the others.
Reindeer and Caribou are the same thing.
Elk are also different.
These are 3 things. In the US and Canada it's Caribou. Reindeer is another word for Caribou.
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- Anonymous1 decade ago
One of the problems with common names is that different regions assign the same common name to different critters.
Both reindeer and caribou refer to the same critter - Rangifer tarandus. In North America they are typically called caribou, while reindeer is used more often to refer to European and Asian populations.
Elk and moose are both used to refer to Alces alces. In North America, it's called the moose, while in Europe it's the elk.
To further confuse the issue, in North America, elk refers to a totally different critter - Cervus elaphus, also known as the wapiti. In Europe, this same critter is known as the red deer.
While there have been genetic differences noted between wapiti and red deer, I'm not convinced that the level of differences warrants species level designation. Likewise with similar recent reclassifications of North American and European Alces (some workers designate the North American moose as Alces americanus).
I tend to be more of a lumper than a splitter. A lot of the recent taxonomic works seem to be driven more by a desire for geneticists to get published than any actual zoology.
And wapiti is the North American name, not European. It comes from the Shawnee word for "white rump".
- 7 years ago
The moose and elk are of the same family, but not exactly the same.
"Elk Behaviour and Appearance
Weight: 250-450 kg
Height: 0.8-1.5 metres
Body length: 1.6-2.5 metres
Elk are smaller than moose. They range in colour from dark brown in winter to tan in summer though their head, neck, belly and legs are darker than the back and sides. Elk have a long head with large ears. Males have widely branching antlers, as long as 1.1-1.5 m from tip to tip, and are generally 10 percent larger than females and weigh twice as much.
Unlike moose, elk are very social animals. In the Summer months they can live in herds with as many as 400 individuals. These herds are matriarchical, dominated by a single cow."
- 1 decade ago
Elk and moose are the same (i think>at least according to a book of mine)
while reindeer and caribou are the sameSource(s): book and me
- Anonymous4 years ago
I think yuo need to ask a Canuck.