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Many animals have bony structures on their heads, sometimes with a defense function against their predators, others as an indispensable element in the rituals of confrontation between members of the same species. It is about the horns or antlers.
We can find animals with horns large or small, long or short, spiral-shaped or pointed, even with ramifications. It is one more element in animals that humans can admire to understand that wildlife biodiversity will never cease to amaze us.
In different ecosystems of the planet we can find animals with incredible antlers, among which the many horned animals of Africa stand out. Continue reading this Green Ecologist article to learn more about the horned animals.
What are horns or antlers
The horns are bony structures that arise as extensions of the frontal bone, in the area of the forehead and upper part of the head. They appear only and exclusively in Vertebrate animals, and mostly in mammals, although they can also be seen in other animals such as reptiles that have similar keratin structures. Normally, the horns are pointed in shape and surrounded by a layer of keratin or skin with fine fur, which constitutes a corneal sheath of resistance.
It is important to know that there are other animals with similar structures but not made of bone material, but mainly of hardened keratin, so they are not considered horns themselves. Is about the antlers that deer have (family of ruminant mammals to which deer, elk, roe deer and reindeer belong, among others, and which can be seen in the image below). Another big difference with the horns or with the antlers of bovids, is that cervids suffer the shedding of their antlers every year or only during youth, depending on the species, and bovids have them permanently.
We already know what horns are and how to differentiate them from antlers, now let's see examples of animals with horns.
Horned animals of Africa
We start with a list of horned animals of Africa:
- The Ankole-Watusi (Bos Taurus africanus) It has the largest antlers of all the cattle breeds, reaching over a meter and a half in length and weighing up to 50 kilos.
- Within the group of antelopes we find the greater kudúTragelaphus strepsiceros). Only males have curved V horns with two or three spiral turns, reaching 1.25 meters in length.
- In the Sahara desert we find the addax (Addax nasomaculatus), whose horns grow vertically and twist on themselves in a spiral, with a marked ringing.
- The white oryxOryx dammah) It has striking horns that curve back in the shape of a scimitar (saber with a long curved blade native to the Middle East).
- The sable antelopeHippotragus niger) It has powerful horns that allow it to fight its predators, charging them with its antlers.
- The famous Grant's gazelleNanger granti), large and with fine horns (somewhat longer in males than in females), it lives exclusively in East Africa.
- Less known is the common tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus) whose horns of both sexes have a short open spiral.
- The Jackson's chameleonTrioceros jacksonii), We include it in this list because it is a curious reptile from Africa, although its three horns are not considered as such as they are not like those of the bovidae, but they are commonly known that way.
Probably many of us come to mind the giraffe as one of the most characteristic horned animals in Africa. However, it is important to clarify that the "horns" of the giraffe (Giraffa Sebastian) Are actually osicones, prominences that are formed from ossified cartilage and covered with skin, fused with the parietal bones of the skull.
In the images below you can see these animals with antlers in the order mentioned in the list.
Horned animals of Europe
We continue this list with the horned animals in Europe, mentioning the main ones:
- The European mouflonOvis orientalis musimon) lives in mountainous areas of Europe. Males have larger horns than females and curve on both sides of their heads.
- The European bisonBison bonasus) it is the largest mammal in Europe. Both sexes have short, thick, upward-facing horns.
- The chamoisRupicapra rupicabra) It is present in mountain ranges in Europe. Its antlers are born upwards and curved strongly backwards, acquiring the shape of a hook.
- Also known as wild mountain goat (Capra ibex), the ibex It lives exclusively in the Alps mountain range and has long horns that curve backwards.
In this picture you can see the European horned animals in the order above.
Horned animals of Asia
Finally, we mention several of the animals with horns or antlers found in Asia:
- The Indian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) It has flattened horns that curve backwards, with widely spaced tips, reaching 1.2 meters apart.
- Also native to Asia, the gaurBos gaurus) It has fairly short horns with a black tip, arching upwards.
- Among the domestic livestock animals in Asia stands out the zebuBos primigenius indicus), with short horns, floppy ears and a pronounced hump.
- In the forests of India it is common to find nilgóBoselaphus tragocamelus). Only males have short, straight horns, about 15-24 centimeters.
- The saolaPseudoryx nghetinhensis) lives in the mountains between Vietnam and Laos. It has a long, slender and almost straight antler.
- In a geographic area close to the saola species, we found the kupreyBos sauveli) that inhabits the jungles of Cambodia. Males have spiral horns, while those of females are long and curved forward.
- In the cold deserts of Central Asia we find the yakBos mutus). They have long horns, one meter in length, bent upward and somewhat inward.
You can see them in this order below.
If you want to read more articles similar to +20 animals with horns, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.
- C. Urroz (2006). Elements of animal anatomy and physiology. Editorial State Distance University, 2: 85-90.
- C. Grigson (1991). An African Origin for African cattle ?. African Archaeological Review, 9: 119-144.
- L. Harrison Matthews (1977). The Life of Mammals. Destino Editions. pp. 710-711
- V. Hanak & V. Mazak (1990). Encyclopedia of Animals, Mammals from around the World. Madrid Spain: Susaeta. p. 208.