Impurest's Guide to Animals #22 - Saola

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Edited By ImpurestCheese

Well its back to the status quo and weekend (+ Friday) releases and once again we have another animal from the edges of mystery. Last week however the gleaming Golden Orb Weaver was in the spotlight. This time we have an animal from the same area often described as ‘the most elusive creature’ on the planet.

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Issue #22 - Saola

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Mammalia

Order – Artiodactyla

Family – Bovidae

Genus – Pseudoryx

Species – nghetinhensis

Related Species - Despite appearances the Saola is more closely related to cows then it is to antelopes and goats (1)

Range

[2]
[2]

The Asian Bicorn

Adult Saola are chocolate brown furred medium sized ungulates which stand about 80 cm at the shoulders and have white stripes along their faces. The distinguishing feature of the animal are a pair of long straight horns, akin to those found on the Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx), that grown up to 50cm long (2). Like all true cattle both the males and females possess horns and there is almost no differentiation between lengths, among similarly aged animals regardless of gender.

[3]
[3]

Saola are herbivores, and use a long tongue covered with tiny barbs to hook food and draw it into the mouth. It’s suspected due to this kind of morphology that they are browsers unlike other conventional cattle. Saola are probably preyed on leopards (Panthera paradus) and are caught in snares set for deer by humans. While gentle the Saola will stand its ground and fight relying on its horns and the thickened skin around it’s neck, up to 5cm thick, to defend itself from predators and rival Saola.

The Saola is among the most endangered species in the world, with a recorded wild population of eleven individuals, and a further two in captivity, although the elusiveness of the animal suggests there could be more waiting to be found. While hunting and deforestation defiantly contribute to its status as ‘critically endangered’ the late discovery of the Saola, as late as 1992 (3), and incomplete population assessments are also factors to be considered.

[4]
[4]

Questions of Biology - #1 What is Milk?

As stupid as this title sounds, this (Friday) morning I checked my PM to find a message waiting for me.

LOL, Milk is so strange. Arguably you’re drinking cow urine

Annoyed at the sheer ignorance I sidelined this week’s actual issue (release date next week) and wrote this one, including an explanation on what milk is and its role in Mammal Biology.

For starters Milk is a naturally occurring lipid created by the mammary glands for the nursing of newborn animals. The production is related to the levels of pregnancy hormones in the female animal. Milk production is exclusive to mammals and is released through teats when the newborn is suckling on them (4). As well as aiding in growth milk also carries antibiotics crucial in boosting the health of the newborn animal after the umbilical cord is cut.

While all mammals produce milk only a small portion are farmed by humans to produce dairy products. While cows are the most prolific milk producers; goats, buffalo, sheep and even donkeys and camels are all farmed for milk in addition to meat and labour output.

In Dairy Farms cows are kept producing milk by keeping them constantly pregnant, with the calf being removed for slaughter or hand rearing before it is three days old. While domestic cows can live for twenty years the working life of a dairy cow is only four years, depending on levels of milk production, after which the animal will be sold for slaughter or kept to raise calves taken from their mothers.

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - Robichaud, William G. (1998). "Physical and behavioral description of a captive saola, Pseudoryx nghetinhensis". Journal of Mammalogy 79 (2): 394–40

3 - Dung, Vu Van; Giao, Pham Mong; Chinh, Nguyen Ngoc; Tuoc, Do; Arctander, Peter; MacKinnon, John (1993). "A new species of living bovid from Vietnam". Nature 363 (6428): 443.

4 - Vorbach C., Capecchi M.R., Penninger J.M. (2006). "Evolution of the mammary gland from the innate immune system?". BioEssays 28 (6): 606–616.

Picture References

1 - http://assets.worldwildlife.org/photos/61/images/story_full_width/Saola_Circle_image_HI_37218.jpg?1345563402

2 - http://www.amnh.org/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/amnh/images/our-research/center-for-biodiversity-and-conservation2/research/species-based-research/mammals/saola/saola-map/250078-1-eng-US/saola-map.jpg

3 - http://photos.mongabay.com/j/martha2.360.jpg

4 - http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/blog/Image/9-2-saola_stamp.jpg

Thanks for reading guys; I hope you enjoyed the shy Saola. Make sure to drop me a comment and suggest an animal to be covered in future issues, and as usual you can check out past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

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wildvine

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Someone just got schooled about milk.

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Damnit! I don't know what sound that makes!

And Milk isn't cow urine, you silly :D

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Lol the title of the milk pm was pretty funny. Great thread, Saolas look like interesting animals.

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#5  Edited By laflux

@impurestcheese: Milk is produced from Modified sebaceous glands, which are associated with sweat, natural oils and scent secretions though :P

Also that Antelope looks quite a bit like a Bongo. Are they closely related?

Edit, I only had a quick look, I see they are cattle and I feel stupid.

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#6  Edited By Ostyo
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#7  Edited By wildvine

@ostyo: Stop milking the joke.

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#8  Edited By Cream_God
No Caption Provided

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@wildvine, @ostyo: Thanks for the comments :-)

@knightsofdarkness2: They are, unfortunately they will most likely be extinct before we know too much about them

@scorpion2501: They are utterly silent in the wild apparently

@laflux: I know thanks for the correction. Been on the clock for this one. Had to get it out before bat surveys tonight. And don't feel stupid Saola live in similar habitat as Bongo (just in Asia instead of Africa) hence the similarities

@cgoodness: Disgusting out of the carton!!

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@laflux: I know thanks for the correction. Been on the clock for this one. Had to get it out before bat surveys tonight. And don't feel stupid Saola live in similar habitat as Bongo (just in Asia instead of Africa) hence the similarities

Bat survey's are always fun.

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@impurestcheese: You're welcome. You can always count on WV and I to derail a thread! :D

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It has a very...weird.

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@impurestcheese: Wow I should spell check. I was gonna say a very weird face lol.

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@darthaznable: Poor thing it has a hard enough time without you insulting it's face :-)

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Poor animal. I hope it's even more elusive than suspected so there are more around but I guess that's avoiding the inevitable.

I'm surprised about the skin thickness around the neck and its role in survival against predators. Makes sense and yet, never crossed my mind as something that would evolve in a protective way.

I have to process the information about cows and milk production. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

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@hislolita: Big Dairy is more cuthroat then you could ever imagine. As for the skin thickness; many prey species get thicker skin around the neck because a lot of predators kill by crushing the trachea

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@darthaznable: Poor thing it has a hard enough time without you insulting it's face :-)

You can have a weird face a still be attractive! I'm sorry little Saola

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@darthaznable: well we can't all be Caracals

With great cuteness comes great mischeif
With great cuteness comes great mischeif

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#23  Edited By wildvine

Kinda weird given the milk discussion, but Saola sounds like a drink. Like Coca Saola.

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#25  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@wildvine: It's Lao Vietnamese for Spinning-Wheel Post Horn

@ostyo: That's a Caracal Kitten, the mascot for this series

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#26  Edited By wildvine
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#27  Edited By DarthAznable
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#28  Edited By Ostyo

@wildvine: You'll drink to anything.

Anyway, guess the Caracal kitten is officially our version Pikachu.

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@ostyo said:

You'll drink to anything.

Anyway, guess the Caracal kitten is officially our version Pikachu.

Last time I go bar hopping with you.

Also, Pokemon ref ftw

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@wildvine: @ostyo: Yep, the Caracal beat the Ocelot in a cat fight a while back. And in a sense I guess it is.

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I will go through it during office break. :)

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warlock360

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I sometimes feel the need to chug down about half a liter of milk. O.o Is that a thing?

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ImpurestCheese

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Milk comes in pints

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Who doesn't like some milk.

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@impurestcheese: What a beautiful creature! <3 I wouldn't have guessed they were related to cows. xD They remind me a lot of deers.

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#36  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@samimista: They definitely are. And yes they do look a lot like Deer and Antelope

@bruxae: I'm lactose intolerant

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@bruxae: Yes, yes you are

@noone301994: Um thanks I think