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Age-graded fossils of Pleistocene endemic Cretan deer (Candiacervus spp.) reveal unexpectedly high juvenile mortality similar to that reported for extant mainland ruminants, despite the fact that these deer lived in a predator-free environment and became extinct before any plausible date for human arrival. Age profiles show that deer surviving past the fawn stage were relatively long-lived for ruminants, indicating that high juvenile mortality was not an expression of their living a “fast” life. Although the effects on survivorship of such variables as fatal accidents, starvation, and disease are difficult to gauge in extinct taxa, the presence of extreme morphological variability within nominal species/ecomorphs of Candiacervus is consistent with the view that high juvenile mortality can function as a key innovation permitting rapid adaptation in insular contexts.