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Monday 24 November 2008 Urial - ancestor of sheep

UrialThe Urial (Ovis vignei) is a wild sheep subspecies which is found in central Asia from the north of Iran to the west of Kazakhstan, and even in Ladakh, they’re also located in Balochistan. The Urial is noted for its large horns that curl backwards behind their heads and taper off in a large spiral, coming to finish pointing back toward the head – like a twisted letter C. The males have very large horns, as some can measure up to a full meter (about three feet) and they are also tall at being nearly a full meter in height (again, roughly three feet) although they are usually 8-9 decimeters. Their fur is usually brownish red in color, and they have white ‘beards’ on their faces below the mouths in males, while females are almost universally the same color all over with exception to the legs near the hooves.

Like most wild sheep, the Urial is found in hilly terrain, and are herbivores. They eat grasses, and lichen, along with other plants if needed. As social animals they live in flocks, this helps them in many ways. Firstly it keeps predators from singling out and killing one, secondly at night their combined body masses keep them warm, and thirdly it helps keep grazing organized. Most flocks are lead by an older Ram (male) which will guide, and lead the flock. Rams will fight each other with their horns for dominance, and mating rights. This behavior usually takes place in early fall, where the victor will take between 3-6 females as his own. Usually out of this, half will give birth to a single lamb, while others may give birth to two in about five months time.

The Urial is the ancestor of most of the modern domesticated sheep, and from that it is the oldest line of sheep. Because of this, its taxonomy, or rather, its species, is disputed. As of right now the classification that is accepted is that is Ovis Vignei, Ovis being the genus which also includes other sheep such as the Argali, the Domestic Sheep (Ovis orientalis aries), the Mouflon, the Bighorn, the Dall, and the Snow sheep. The genus Ovis belongs to the family Bovidae, which contains 140 different species of clove hoofed animals. Of this family, many names are familiar, as not only does it contain sheep, but it also has gazelles, antelopes, bison, and cattle. All Bovids belong to the order Artiodactyla, also known as even-toed ungulates. In this order you will see giraffes, deer, hippos, pigs, and many more. Indeed, it is thought that cetaceans (whales) evolved from Artiodactyla. This order belongs to the large superorder Laurasiatheria which holds within it the odd-toed ungulates (like horses), Carnivora (bears, dogs, seals, and cats), Chiroptera (bats), and many others (including whales, moles, and hedgehogs). Finally, following the chain up it s infraclass is Eutheria (placental mammals), which is a part of the subclass Theria, and is of the class Mammal.

Interesting Fact

Urials have several subspecies which are the subject of international dispute. However six subspecies are known, and are mostly named for regions and differences in horns and other characteristics. You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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Monday 03 November 2008 Canadian lynx

Canadian lynxThe Canada lynx or Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) has a pelage which is frosted in appearance, and just a bit spotted, and the pelage's color varies. It can be red-brown, or gray, and very rarely, what they call the blue-lynx. They have long back legs and a short tail, but their feet are fur-layered, making them look like snowshoes, which in fact they are.

A lot of people get confused in recognizing them, mistaking them for a bobcat, but they could be distinctively recognized by the tip of the tail. The Canada Lynx's tail tip is black all around, whereas the bobcat's tail tip has a white underside.

The Canadian lynx can be found in Alaska, Canada and some parts of the US. At the conclusion of gestation, females would give birth to one up to eight newborns. Weaning is approximately three to five months, and an individual Canada Lynx would attain sexual maturity after 2 years.

This lynx is solitary, except for a female with newborns. Their diet almost totally consists on the snowshoe hare, and because the latter's numbers go up every decade, so does the numbers of the Canada Lynxes. If a single hare is nowhere to be found, desperation would make a lynx go after birds or rodents.

Indeed, trapping is still one of the major dangers to the lynx's survival, as this particular animal is easily captured. It may sound alarming, but the future of these lynxes are not as bad as the other kind of felines- according to some experts.

Interesting fact: the debate continues whether this lynx is a separate breed from the Eurasian kind, or just a subspecies, and the jury is still out on this one. The number of experts on both sides of the fence are equally divided. You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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