The New Student's Reference Work/Musk-Ox
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Musk-Ox or Musk-Sheep, an animal combining characteristics of the ox and sheep; in size and shape resembling the ox, in habit like the sheep. It is very agile, swift and sure of foot. It is now restricted to arctic America north of latitude 60°, but formerly was more widely distributed and occurred in England as well as in America. In this country it once wandered as far south as Kentucky. Now its favorite haunts are the upper tributaries of Mackenzie River and the region about Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes. It is a strange-looking creature, appearing to be a low mass of hair of great length and thickness, tangled at the shoulders. The legs Hornaday describes as short and post-like; the head is massive; the tail very short; the horns meet in the middle of the forehead and curve downward and outward, and the tips point upward. The coat next the body is very fine and soft, of a light brown color; the outer hairs are coarser, darker, sometimes a foot long. The hairy coat is shed during hot weather. A full-grown male reaches a weight of 450 pounds. The animal gets its name from its peculiar musky odor, concerning the origin of which there is doubt. They live in herds of 20 or 30 or upward, feed on grasses, lichens, moss, willow and pine-shoots, and are hunted for food. The flesh of some is very palatable, of others tough and unpleasantly musky. It is an important food-animal to Eskimo and Arctic explorer.