Musk oxen, Ovibos moschatus, are native to the Arctic areas of Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. The Alaska population was wiped out in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, but muskoxen have since been reintroduced to Alaska.
One look at a herd of Musk Oxen, and you wonder if you've traveled back in time to the Pleistocene, the age of Saber-toothed Tigers and Woolly Mammoths. Reportedly, these venerable beasts have existed since the last ice age, 600,000 years ago. With their distinctive curved horns and shaggy long hair, this 'Bison of the Tundra' roams the arctic river valleys of North America, Greenland, and the northern countries of Europe, grazing on grass, reeds, and sedges, using its cloven feet to dig beneath the snow to reach lichen and nutritious ground plants when necessary.
Musk Oxen, who are not oxen, and do not have a musk gland, most likely got its names from the heavy scent that males give off when excited. They are a member of the Bovidae family, and are closely related to sheep and goats, although they best resemble buffalo and bison. Like cattle, they have a four-chambered stomach and live in herds of 10-20 animals. Sometimes several herds may join, forming groups of up to a hundred. Herds will include bulls, cows, and calves until mid-August when the bulls are in full rut. At this time, bulls begin to exhibit heightened aggressiveness, making impressive displays of themselves. Pawing at the ground, walking stiff-legged, and swinging their massive horns, the bulls compete for dominance.
However, thanks to a worldwide hunting ban, populations have recovered. They were reintroduced into Alaska in 1930, where they continue to thrive. The world population is now estimated at 65,000-85,000.
The biggest threat to musk oxen now may be the climate shift occuring in the north. Where temperatures drop significantly a hard crust of ice may form over the ground which is impossible for the Musk Oxen to break through. Without food, herds may starve.
Emma Snow has always adored wild animals. Emma provides content for Wildlife Animals http://www.wildlife-animals.com/ and Riding Stable http://www.riding-stable.com/
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