Musk Oxen (Ovibos moschatus) Tell a Tale of Survivors   Leave a comment

Ovibos’s common name is only partly justified. The males do emit a musky cologne during mating season, but the animal is not an ox. Nor, despite its back-of-the-nickel silhouette, is it a type of buffalo either. Its closest living relations are thought to be goats and sheep, but taxonomically and metaphorically, the musk ox is in an icy cubicle of its own. Once abundant throughout the northern latitudes worldwide, today they are found only in Arctic North America, Greenland and pockets of Siberia and Scandinavia. The musk ox is a holdover from the Pleistocene, the age of the giant mammals memorialized in natural history murals everywhere — the mammoths and mastodons, the saber-toothed cats, the giant ground sloths, the 400-pound beavers. Yet while a vast majority of the frost-fitted bigfoots disappeared at the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, Ovibos hung on, as stubbornly as the ox it is not.

Posted December 14, 2010 by dmacc502 in Uncategorized

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