RESEARCH: Reindeer can help humans treat depression

In 2019, the New Scientist LIFE magazine wrote about the superpowers of reindeers. Do they really have superpowers?

The Reindeer, or Caribou, is a large mammal in the Cervidae family of deers. Nearly 5 million Reindeers live in the freezing climate of the Arctic, from Alaska to Siberia and Greenland, where there are more periods of night-time darkness than day-time light. 

Genetic scientists know that Reindeers can change the colour of their eyes from gold in summer to blue in winter. They are also working on the Ruminant Genome Project to study Reindeer genes – their DNA – to compare their genes to human genes and other animals, especially other ruminants. Ruminants are animals that chew their cud, such as deer, cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, gazelles, and antelopes.

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Tushetian Sheep

The Tushetian Sheep (Ovis aries musimon) is a ruminant mammal in the Bovidae family. It is an artiodactyla – an even-toed ungulate (hoofed mammal). It is a sub-species of the primitive Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries). It is similar to the Near East Sheep and it is also known as the European Mouflon.

The Tushetian Sheep has a smooth, long, well-developed woolly coat. Its face is not woolly. It has a small, fat, woolly tail. It has long ears. The male is red-brown in summer with a white saddle patch or more white areas. The female is brownish. Both the male and female are darker in winter. The male has helix-shaped horns, but the female does not have horns.

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Mesopotamian Fallow Deer

The Mesopotamian Fallow Deer (Dama mesopotamica) is an ungulate (hoofed), ruminant mammal in the Cervidae family. It is also known as the Persian Fallow Deer.

The Mesopotamian Fallow Deer is grey-brown to reddish-brown. The male has a short neck mane. The male has antlers, made from bone and covered with velvet. It is an even-toed ungulate with two toes on each hoof, like camels, goats, and cattle.

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What are the similarities and differences in the faces of the Kangaroo, Pademelon, Tree-Kangaroo, and Wallaby?

The Kangaroo, Pademelon, Tree-Kangaroo and Wallaby are all macropod (large-footed) marsupial (pouched) mammals.

The Kangaroo, Pademelon, and Wallaby have triangular-shaped faces with black noses, whereas the Tree-Kangaroo has a square-shaped face with a pink nose.

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American Wood Bison

The American Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) is an ungulate (hoofed) mammal in the bovine (cattle) family. It is a bisonid. It is an artiodactyl, because it is cloven (split) hooved. It is also known as the American Buffalo, and is closely related to the European Bison, which is also called the European Wisent.

The American Wood Bison has a shaggy dark-brown coat of fur with a massive head. It is broad and muscular. Both the male and female have short, curved horns.

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Woodland Caribou

The Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) is an ungulate (hoofed) mammal in the deer species. It is also known as the Reindeer.

The Caribou varies in size and colour, from light to dark. The Woodland Caribou has dark-brown fur. Its coat had two layers of fur – a thick woolly undercoat and a longer-haired overcoat. It has large feet with crescent-shaped, cloven (split) hooves, which are wide for walking on snow.

Both the male and the female grow antlers, although the female has smaller antlers. As antlers grow, they become covered in thick dark-brown velvet. The Woodland Caribou loses it antlers and grows a new pair each year.

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The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is also called the Forest Giraffe, the Congolese Giraffe or the Zebra Giraffe. It is related to the giraffe; it is a giraffid. It is a ruminant ungulate mammal – a plant eating hoofed animal. It is an artiodactyl.

The Okapi has chocolate to reddish brown fur. Its legs have white horizontal stripes with white ankles. Its face, throat, and chest are greyish white. It has a long neck and large flexible ears. Males have short ossicones (like giraffes) that are bony structures covered in hair – they are not horns. It has a long tongue.

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Oryx Teeth

The Oryx (Oryx sp) is an antelope, which is a hoofed ruminant mammal.

Ruminants have well-developed molar teeth, which grind plant-based food – called the cud – into food balls.

The Oryx, like all antelopes, has no upper incisors. Instead, it has a hard, upper gum pad. The lower incisors use the gum pad to bite and tear grass stems and leaves.

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What is a ruminant?

To ruminate means to chew something over and over again.

Many mammals, such as humans, cannot eat grass and plants, but herbivorous animals can eat grass.

A ruminant is also a herbivore–a herbivorous animal. A ruminant is a hoofed mammal that feeds on plants. A ruminant has a special four-chambered stomach that can digest and ferment plant-based food.

A ruminant uses its teeth to grind their plant food into balls, which are stored in the stomach and can be regurgitated later. Re-chewing is also called regurgitation. A ruminant re-chews its food ball, which is also called the bolus, or cud.

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The Goat (Capra aegagrus) is an even-toed ungulate (hoofed) mammal from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and now common to most countries. It is a bovid, related to sheep.

The Goat has varied coloured fur, but mainly variations of black, brown, grey, and white, with short hair or long, shaggy hair. Both males and females have two horns, and both males and females have a beard. It has dark eyes with horizontal, slit-shaped pupils.

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The Wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is also called a Canadian Elk. It is one of the largest species in the deer family in the world. The term Wapiti is from the Shawnee and Cree word meaning ‘white rump.’

The Wapiti is an ungulate because it has hooves, similar to camel, goat, or cattle. Only the male has antlers, which are made of bone, and are covered with a soft layer of skin, called velvet. Velvet is shed in summer. The Wapiti can have various colours of brown, grey, or reddish fur, which grows thicker in winter to keep it warm. It has a small white rump patch, with a short tail.

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What’s the difference between giraffe manure and zebra manure?

What’s the difference between giraffe manure and zebra manure? Manure is also known as dung, poop, poo, or droppings.

Giraffes and zebras are both ungulate mammals.

Giraffes and zebras are both herbivores, because they both eat vegetation.

Specifically, giraffes are ruminant browsers, eating bushes, leaves, and branches of trees, whereas zebras are cecal grazers, eating mainly grass.

Giraffes have manure similar in texture to sheep manure, whereas zebra manure is similar in texture to horse manure.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo

Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi buergersi) is one of two sub-species of tree-kangaroos, native to Papua New Guinea.

It is a macropod, and is related to kangaroos and wallabies.

It grows to 55-77 centimetres (22-30 inches).

The Tree-Kangaroo is arboreal, spending its life in trees, unlike other kangaroos that are terrestrial (living on the ground).

The Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo is short and woolly with chestnut red fur, a brown face, yellowish cheeks and feet, a pale stomach, a long tail, and two golden stripes on its back.

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