Seven facts about the Musk ox – a living relic from a prehistoric age
East Greenland. The ice stretches to nothing but an empty horizon. The landscape covered in its entirety by endless white sheets of snow. And with that its freezing temperatures and harsh conditions. How could anyone or anything possibly survive in such conditions for an extended period without freezing to death? The Musk ox has so much strength and stamina, so it can live in this unforgiving and merciless weather conditions and still survive, because they are built for it. They are fighters! Here are seven facts about the Musk ox – the last relic of the ice age.
The closest relative they have are sheep and goat. The Mysk ox run upwards just like a goat and have the same small, round dropping.
The musk ox gets its name from the strong, musky smell that they release during mating season, which isn’t actually musk.
Dressed in layers
The Musk ox have two layers of hair. The top layer is thick and long to keep snow and rain from getting to the shorter, insulating coat. This second coat is the lightest, warmest wool in the world, and protects the musk oxen from the frigid Arctic winter.
A big animal
The Musk ox have a life span of 12 to 20 years and the species that lives in northeast Greenland usually weighs around 375 kg. The are the second largest animals to live on the Arctic tundra. Only polar bears are larger.
Because the Musk ox are designed for the cold, they can’t run for very long without overheating. When threatened, Musk oxen form a defensive circle with their young in the middle and use their sharp horns to fight off the attacker.
During the short summer, the Musk ox feed on grass and flowers, building up enough fat to help them get through a long, cold winter. In the winter months, they must dig through the snow to reach roots, mosses, and lichens.
Eyes like sunglasses
Their pupils are horizontal, which act like sunglasses to reduce the glare of the sun reflected off snow and ice.
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