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(ôr`ĭks), name for several small, horselike antelopesantelope,
name applied to any of a large number of hoofed, ruminant mammals of the cattle family (Bovidae), which also includes the bison, buffalo, sheep, and goats. Found in Africa and Eurasia, they range in size from pygmy antelopes, 12 in.
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, genus Oryx, found in deserts and arid scrublands of Africa and Arabia. They feed on grasses and scrub and can go without water for long periods. Oryxes are light in color with dark patches on the face and legs. They have slight shoulder humps, tufted tails, and long, straight or slightly curved slender horns that point backward.

The gemsbok (O. gazella) is found in SW Africa. It is beige to brownish gray with brown to black markings; a large male gemsbok stands more than 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder and weighs up to 450 lb (200 kg). The East African oryx, or beisa (O. beisa) is similar but smaller, with shorter horns. It is found from Ethiopia south to NE Tanzania, with the fringe-eared oryx subspecies in the southern part of the range. The scimitar, or scimitar-horned, oryx (O. dammah) is native to the N African deserts and has long, back-curved horns. It is white with chestnut markings and a dark tail. It became extinct in the wild in the late 1980s, but a wild population is being reestablished from herds bred in captivity.

The Arabian, or white, oryx (O. leucoryx) is the smallest oryx, standing up to 40 in. (100 cm) high. It is white with dark brown and black markings. The Arabian oryxes once ranged over the deserts of SW Asia and were hunted by nomads for flesh and hides. However, they were nearly exterminated in the 20th cent. by hunting from automobiles, and survived only in zoos by the 1970s. Since 1982 a captive breeding program has successfully reintroduced them to first Oman and then other Middle Eastern countries.

The oryx 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.



a genus of artiodactyls of the subfamily Hippotraginae. Oryxes are 120 to 140 cm tall at the withers and weigh up to 200 kg. They are handsome, long-legged animals. Both males and females have straight or arcuate horns, which are round in cross section. The long horns, sometimes measuring more than 1 m, terminate in sharp points and are used for defensive purposes. The coloration is generally light grayish brown, with striking dark markings.

There are four species of oryxes, distributed in the Sahara, eastern and southern Africa, and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The animals live in small groups and feed on desert grasses and shrubs. Hunted intensively, some species have almost been exterminated in some regions.


Zhizn’zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.


any large African antelope of the genus Oryx, typically having long straight nearly upright horns
References in periodicals archive ?
With the huge success of Sheikh Zayed's conservation and captive breeding efforts, the UAE is today home to 10,000 Arabian oryxes with 5,000 of these in Abu Dhabi.
At about 8:00 a.m., I spotted three nice oryxes on the east side of the road.
Chief warden Simon Leirana said: "Two oryxes came near the lion and calf, probably the mother and father.