musk ox

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musk ox,

hoofed ruminant mammal, Ovibos moschatus, found in arctic North America and Greenland. The northernmost member of the cattle family (though it is not closely related to true cattlecattle,
name for the ruminant mammals of the genus Bos, and particularly those of the domesticated species, Bos taurus and B. indica. The term oxen, broadly used, refers also to closely related animals, such as the buffalo and the bison.
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), the musk ox grazes on the stunted vegetation of the tundra. It was exterminated in Alaska about the middle of the 19th cent. but was later restored there on Nunivak island. Its stoutly built body, about 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder in the male, is covered by a long, shaggy, brown to black coat, which conceals the short tail and the upper part of the short legs. The male has a musky odor during the mating season. The horns are broad and flattened and nearly meet across the forehead at the base. They extend out from the sides of the head, curving downward and then upward in a hook. The hooves are very large and widely splayed, an adaptation to walking on snow. Musk oxen live in herds of 10 to 20 individuals in summer and up to 100 in winter. When in danger the herd forms a circle, horns pointing outward, with the young in the center. The chief enemy of the musk ox, besides Native Americans and Eskimos who hunt it for flesh and fur, is the wolf. The musk ox is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Musk Ox


(Ovibos moschatus), an artiodactyl of the family Bovidae. The height at the shoulder is about 1.1m, and the body is up to 2.5 m long and weighs up to 300 kg. The musk ox is a massive, short-legged animal, covered with a long, dense, black-brown coat. The neck is short and thick, and the tail is hidden by hair. Both males and females have horns, which are very thick at the base and curved. The musk ox is distributed in Greenland and on islands of the Canadian Archipelago. The species was recently imported into some arctic islands (Spitzbergen, Nunivak, Nelson) and Alaska. In the Pleistocene and, to a lesser degree, in the Holocene, the musk ox was widely distributed in Eurasia and North America. It lives in herds of as many as 20 to 30 animals and feeds on lichens, mosses, and grass. The species mates in August, and, after nine months, a single calf is born. The musk ox is rare, numbering only about 25,000 individuals. The species is under strict protection.


Zhizn’zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

musk ox

a large bovid mammal, Ovibos moschatus, which has a dark shaggy coat, short legs, and widely spaced downward-curving horns and emits a musky smell: now confined to the tundras of Canada and Greenland
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
As the largest land mammal in the polar region, the musk ox (scientific name Ovibus moschatus) has the body and horns of a buffalo but has wool like a sheep.
As we'd done every night, we discussed politics and told personal stories, but all of it paled when the musk ox were mentioned.
When I hunted musk ox above the Arctic Circle almost 20 years ago, there was enough wind blowing to plaster the long hair against the big bull's body, revealing the contours of the shoulder, but many musk ox get shot a little too low, because of the 18" of hair hanging below the chest.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Conservation Society adds the Irrawaddy dolphin of Southeast Asia, the Arctic's musk ox, the oceangoing hawksbill turtle and others to the list of species that are "feeling the heat" from global warming.
Materials from the Arctic include ivory, reindeer horn, sealskin, and musk ox or caribou fur.
With survival gear and arctic weather-resistant tents, he headed to the permafrost of Canada's deadly tundra, inhabited by caribou, musk ox, bears and deep snow.
And the long-haired, atavistic musk ox, stolid in repose, were surprisingly graceful in uphill gallop.
His flat, condensed images make economical use of negative space and line to cleverly present zoological trails: The horns of an arctic musk ox herd are formed by a series of brown arches adjacent to icy white squares and triangles; the eyes and claws of an owl descending on a teardrop-shaped field mouse emerge as Xs and Os from a midnight-black ground; a manatee is composed from two gray circles and two finlike triangles.
Another is qiviuk, the world's most expensive wool, gathered from the Arctic musk ox.
Chef Rene Redzepi, co-owner of Copenhagen's ground-breaking twostar Michelin restaurant Noma, which opened in 2003, has been pushing his fellow citizens to eat musk ox served with apples and raw nettles, rather than McNuggets.
Meet the musk ox, arctic fox, caribou and six other polar animals.
In North America, true horns grow on bison, wild sheep and musk ox. The difference is that horns are permanent.