What is an ungulate?

Goats are ungulate animals.

Hoofed is a term used to refer to any type of hoofed mammal. Deer, antelope, horses, and llamas are examples of ungulates, which can be distinguished because they walk on tiptoes, which have hardened into hooves over millennia of evolution. The evolution of ungulates favored fast-moving animals with long legs and well adapted for living in grassy plains and savannas.

Pigs are even-toed ungulates.

There are three to four orders of animals that are classified as ungulates, including even-toed ungulates, odd-toed ungulates, and elephants. Some biologists include a fourth order, the Hyracoidea, as well. They share a common ancestor and can be found on almost every continent in the world. Other animals on Earth, including many ocean mammals, share an ancestor with ungulates, but they are not classified as such because they do not have distinctive hooves.

Elephants are a group of ungulates.

Equal-toed ungulates are known as Artiodactyla and include goats, pigs and sheep. Most even-toed ungulates have forward-facing cloven hooves. Additional digits shrank and moved to the back of the foot as animals evolved. In some animals, these extra digits have disappeared entirely, as is the case with the rhino. This group of ungulates is the largest, with a hundred living species.

Deer are ungulates.

An odd-toed ungulate is known as a member of the Perissodactyla, a much smaller ungulate division. Perissodactyla is divided into three groups, which together contain 17 living species, although the fossil record indicates that this group of ungulates was once much larger. The three groups are rhinos, horses and tapirs. Rhinos and tapirs walk on three toes, while horses have only one.

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Horses are an example of an ungulate.

The third group of ungulates are the elephants, which are part of a much larger group of animals. Some biologists also classify Hyracoidea as ungulates. Hyracoidea are rodent-like mammals found in Africa and Asia that walk on tiptoe like other ungulates. These animals are more informally known as hyraxes, an inclusive name for fourteen individual species of animals.

Camels are even-toed ungulates that have been used as beasts of burden in arid environments for thousands of years.

The role of ungulates in human history is very important. Some of the first domesticated animals, such as goats and sheep, are ungulate species. Humans have used ungulates to provide meat, milk and fiber for thousands of years. Hoofed species such as horses were ridden by many ancient cultures and continue to be used for recreation and transport today.

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