The Irish Elk was not an elk. Nor did it originate in Ireland. It was the biggest deer that ever lived.
This species, Megaloceros, was 7 feet at the shoulder and its antlers were 12 feet across! It lived during the Pleistocene, and the last of its kind probably died out about 11,000 years ago in Ireland. Other species may have survived to the Holocene epoch.
Megaloceros had been the center of a great debate about evolution. During the 17th and 18th centuries, most philosophers agreed that extinction could not occur. Their rationale was: Why would God destroy any animal that He had created in the Divine creation? Megaloceros troubled these philosophers, so they stated that it was the same as an "American moose" or a "European reindeer."
Finally, in 1812, the great scientist Cuvier (the guy who found out that woolly mammoths weren't giants) also found out and proved that, in fact, many extinctions had occurred in the past.
Cenozoic Era: Quaternary Period: CreatureFeature