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a suborder of mammals of the order Artiodactyla. The stomach in the majority of ruminants consists of four divisions: the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. In some the third division (omasum) is absent. Regurgitation and remastication of food (cudding) play an important role in the process of digestion. Many ruminants have well-developed horns. They have no upper incisors (they have been replaced by a broad callous or horny plate). The third and fourth digits of the extremities are the most highly developed, each with a large, horny hoof; the lateral digits are considerably shorter or are sometimes absent.
There are five families in the suborder: Tragulidae, Cervidae, Antilocapridae, Bovidae, and Giraffidae. Wild ruminants are found almost everywhere (except Australia, Madagascar, and the Antilles) from the tropics to the arctic latitudes, under the most varied natural conditions. They are predominantly polygamous herd animals of great agricultural significance. Of the domestic animals, cattle, sheep, and goats belong to the family Bovidae. Wild species of Ruminantia are commercially exploited (they are used chiefly for meat and leather).