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Musk ox facts for kids

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Musk ox
Ovibos moschatus by Dixi.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification

Binomial name
Ovibos moschatus
(Zimmermann, 1780)
Range map. Blue indicates areas where the muskox has been successfully introduced in the 20th century. Red indicates established range.

The musk ox (Ovibos moschatus, muskox) is a large Arctic mammal of the Bovidae family.

It has a thick coat, and was common in the northern hemisphere during the Pleistocene ice age. The males give off a strong odour, hence its name. This musky odour is used to attract females during mating season. Musk oxen travel in herds of females and their young led by one or two strong males. Male oxen fight over who will be leader by butting their thick heads and horns against each other. The musk oxen's long, curved horns keep away predators. When a herd smells nearby wolves, all the musk oxen form a circle and face out. They lower their heads to show off their horns.

Musk oxen live in Arctic North America and Greenland, with small introduced populations in Sweden, Siberia and Norway.

Musk oxen are herbivores which graze on grasses, leaves, and some Arctic flowers. They are ruminants; they swallow their food without chewing it. Later, they regurgitate the food (called a cud) and chew it. Musk oxen, like other ruminants, have a stomach with four sections.

Fossil DNA evidence suggests musk oxen were not only more geographically widespread during the Pleistocene, but also more genetically diverse. During that time, other populations of musk oxen lived across the Arctic, from the Ural Mountains to Greenland. Together with the bison and the pronghorn, the muskox was one of a few species of Pleistocene megafauna in North America to survive the Pleistocene/Holocene extinction event and live to the present day.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ovibos moschatus para niños

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