Do you know Which Hoofed Mammals are Odd-Toed ? It seems strange to refer to animals as either odd-toed or even-toed but that is how the two groups of mammals that are hoofed-the ungulates-are distinguished.
The herbivorous ungulates evolved on fir grassy plains-ideal places for running at high speed. The fewer fingers and toes an animal has the faster it can run.
Which Hoofed Mammals are Odd-Toed
This is why you run on the very tips of your toes when you sprint for a bus, to give you more spring forwards. The fingers and toes of the ungulates became reduced, their remaining claws developed into hooves and their legs lengthened to allow fast galloping across the plains.
If you draw a straight line down the middle of an ungulate’s foot (this is called an axis), in some its will pass through the middle finger or toe. During the evolution of these ungulates this finger or toe has become lengthened and developed into the hoof, while the toes on either side have become lost or reduced.
So the hoof is either made up of just one toe or of three in these ungulates, and they are therefore called odd-toed. Today’s representatives of this group are horses, asses and zebras, and tapirs and rhinoceroses.
Are there any Truly Wild Horses?
Apart from the zebras, which also belong to the horse family, the only really wild horse found today is Przewalski’s Wild Horse and the Asiatic and African Wild Ass. Another wild horse, the Tarpan from the Ukraine, became extinct only recently (in 1919), and Przewalski’s Horse is precariously near extinction. Wild horses of many species were once common in Europe and Asia, and from one or two of this man developed the domestic horse.
Domestic breeds of horses and donkeys are now found all over the world and in many places they have gone back to the wild. These semi-wild horses readily breed with the remaining small numbers of truly wild horses, so that the pure species are gradually diminishing and will eventually disappear.
Why are Zebras Striped?
This is the most obvious question to ask about zebras but unfortunately nobody really knows the answer. Looking at zebras in the zoo, the striped patterning seems very conspicuous and could hardly be thought of as protective.
Once theory, however, claims that this is, in fact, so. The bold stripes may serve to break up the shape of the zebra. From a distance, across the shimmering grassy plains on which the zebra lives, the blurred collection of stripes that the lion or tiger sees may not be instantly recognizable as an animal.
The patterning is variable and not two zebras are exactly alike. It is interesting that African people think of zebras as black animals with white stripes whereas we think of them as white animals with black stripes.
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