The origins of the regenerative nature of antlers, being branched and deciduous apophyseal appendages of frontal bones of cervid artiodactyls, have long been associated with permanent evolutionary precursors. In this study, we provide novel insight into growth modes of evolutionary early antlers. We analysed a total of 34 early antlers affiliated to ten species, including the oldest known, dating from the early and middle Miocene (approx. 18 to 12 million years old) of Europe. Our findings provide empirical data from the fossil record to demonstrate that growth patterns and a regular cycle of necrosis, abscission and regeneration are consistent with data from modern antlers. The diverse histological analyses indicate that primary processes and mechanisms of the modern antler cycle were not gradually acquired during evolution, but were fundamental from the earliest record of antler evolution and, hence, explanations why deer shed antlers have to be rooted in basic histogenetic mechanisms. The previous interpretation that proximal circular protuberances, burrs, are the categorical traits for ephemerality is refuted.