Even-toed ungulates, well the name sounds a bit difficult doesn’t it but all it means is animals with an even number of toes. What is “even” I hear you say? Well “even” means numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc so an animal with 2 toes or 6 toes would be an even-toed ungulate. Let’s have a look at some interesting facts about these animals.
Excluding whales, there are roughly 220 artiodactyl species.
Smallest animal: lesser Malay mouse deer (40 cm long)
Largest animal: Giraffe (5.8 meter)
Heaviest animal: hippopotamus (reports vary from 3,600 to 4,500 kg)
Most of the world’s species of large land mammals are artiodactyls (the family that includes even-toed ungulates). This includes cattle (cows), pigs, goats, and sheep, has helped humans through evolution. Humans domesticated them for their meat, milk, and leather, farmers to help them on the land.
You can find these animals on all continents, except the continents of Antarctica and Australia.
The giant hippopotamus is the only aquatic artiodactyl, spending most of its time in water.
Even-toed ungulates live their lives in herds of up to 40 animals.
They may forage (look for food) several kilometres distant from where they pass the day, and some farmers see considerable damage to their crops and rangelands due to their foraging and their travel to foraging areas.
Pygmy hippos are less social and are usually found in and near forests.
Many members of the order of artiodactyla have huge horns, usually used in conflicts with members of the same species, often in ritualized combats between males at mating time.
These horns may become targets of sexual selection: if females find males with larger horns more attractive, they will mate with them and large horns will be favoured evolutionarily. This can result into the enormous antlers in species such as the Irish elk.
Still the favourite weapon of artiodactyl is their speed to outrun their predators, sight, smell and hearing.
I hope you found this interesting please download the presentation Lesson 12 for more information and try to complete the worksheet below.