North American Ungulates
We know them as cows, horses, pigs, sheep and goats, among other domestic animals. Formally they are called ungulates, a general term given to both the domestic and wild hoofed animals.
With the exceptions of Australia and New Zealand, wild ungulate populations inhabit most of the world's grasslands and some forest areas.
The group divides down into two orders, primarily based on the formation of their feet.
|Ungulate Families and Species
United States Native Ungulates
- Artiodactyla: Even-toed Ungulates
- Perissodactyla: Odd-toed Ungulates
Surveying the list below confirms another basic observation that is applicable across the range of ungulates. With few exceptions, most ungulate species are describes as large herbivores.
Some ungulate fun facts include the white rhinoceros as the largest odd-toed ungulate and the giraffe as the largest even toed ungulate.
Up front it is also important to note that fossil records suggest a link between cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and even-toed Ungulates, and some taxonomists lump both groups under a single order.
Taking Artiodacytla as a single order, the wild animal population currently breaks down into ten different, and familiar families, with approximately two hundred and fifty different species.
The vast majority of Artiodacytla species belong to two families, the horn bearing antelope or cattle-like Bovidae and the antler bearing deer (Cervidae).
- Antilocapridae: At speeds approaching sixty mph, Pronghorn Sheep (Antilocapra americana), North America's only Antilocapra species, ranks as its fastest land animal. Their nickname, Pronghorn Antelope, makes them the fabled range "antelopes" of the West.
Physically, Pronghorn share both Bovidae and Cervidae physical traitssuch as the presence of horns on both genders.
About the size of a goat, the male Pronghorn Sheep stands about three feet tall at the shoulder, and weighs about one hundred and twenty pounds. Females are a bit smaller.
A group of Pronghorn Sheep is called a herd. They are migratory animals, with herds often numbers in the hundreds.
- Bovidae: Antelope, Bison, Ox, Gazelles, etc.al (140 species)
- Camelidae: Camels and Llamas (3 species)
- Cervidae: Deer, Elk, Moose (55 species)
- Giraffidae: Giraffes (2 species) , th
- Hippopotamidae: Hippopotomus (4 species)
- Moschidae: Musk Deer (7 species)
- Suidae: Pigs, Warthogs (18 species)
- Tayassuidae: Peccary (4 species)
The Javelina or Collard Peccary (Pecari tajacu), top picture, inhabit a variety of areas from Northern Argentina to the Southern United States.
While they resemble wild boars and are often called wild boars or wild pigs, differences in physical features places Peccary in their own separate genus.
They consume a variety of plants and fruits in their territory, and in areas where they are protected, they happily consume tourist food. Unlike most ungulates, Peccary are omnivores that consume a variety of food including insects and small invertebrates.
Their population is considered stable and they are hunted as game in the Southwest.
- Tragulidae: Chevrotain (10 species)
Perissodactyla, a much smaller order, consists of three families and nineteen wild species.
- Equidae: Wild Horses and Zebras (7 species)
- Rhinocerotidae: Rhinoceros (5 species)
- Tapiridae: Tapirs (4 species)
The Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus), North America's the sole Oreamnos representative, lives in mountain terrain along the coastal areas of Southern Alaska, British Columbia and Washington State, along with a population in the upper Rocky Mountains.
Mountain goats differ from another genus of wild goats (Capra), however both inhabit rocky mountain areas.
The genus name Oreamnos comes from the Greek oros (mountain) and amnos (lamb).
The picture shows an individual with the typical thick, long white coat. It protects them from the harsh mountain weather.
Their ability to live in a rough, mountain environment means they have few natural predators. They exist on a variety of local grasses and leaves.
Mountain goat population levels are generally considered stable.
© 2011-2012. Patricia A. Michaels