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Bovidae

Bovidae (oxen, antelopes, gazelles, sheep, goats; infra-order Pecora, super-family Bovoidea) The largest by far of the artiodactyl families, including cattle, bison, musk-ox, sheep, goats, antelopes, and allied groups, descended from the Oligocene Traguloidea. They appeared as a distinct type in the Miocene and a major diversification followed. Most are grazers but some are browsers. Horns, present in the male and often in the female, are covered with keratin and are not shed. The feet have two or four digits. Bovidae are of world-wide distribution. The family includes Bison bison (N. American bison), Bison bonasus (European wisent, sometimes known, incorrectly, as the ‘aurochs’), Bos taurus (all breeds of European cattle), Bos indicus (Zebu cattle), Bos grunniens (yak), Capra (goats, domesticated breeds being descended from C. aegagrus, the pasang), Ovis (sheep, descended from several wild members of the genus), Ovibos moschatus (musk-ox), Tragelaphus (formerly Taurotragus) oryx (eland), Aepyceros melampus (impala), and Saiga tatarica (the saiga antelope of Siberia) and others, generally lumped as ‘antelopes’, but forming a number of different subfamilies. In all there are 44 genera.

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