Some taxonomists classify the
Persian fallow deer as a
subspecies (D. d. mesopotamica), while others, such as the
IUCN, treat it as a separate species (D. mesopotamica). Based on genetic evidence, Dama is considered to be closest living relative of the extinct genus Megaloceros. The circumscription of the genus is uncertain, with some authors choosing to include taxa that are otherwise placed in the genus Pseudodama, which may be ancestral to Dama.
The earliest species of Dama appeared around the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary approximately 2.6 million years ago, or around the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene approximately 0.8 million years ago, depending on the species included in the genus. The relationships of most Dama species to each other and to other fossil deer are controversial, with no overall consensus on their relationships. The earliest Dama species lack palmate (broad and flattened) antlers, with this trait only developing in D. pelleponesica, D. clactoniana, and the two living species.
Extinct species, based on van der Made et al. 2023:
Dama nestii known from the Early Pleistocene of Europe, also assigned to the genus Pseudodama.
Dama pelleponesica known from the early Middle Pleistocene of Greece, with similar remains referred to as Dama aff. pelleponesica known from the late Middle Pleistocene of
Azokh Cave in Azerbaijan. Species not universally recognised as valid.