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Order Description


Order Description

The Order Artiodactyla includes deer, pigs, cattle, goats, llamas, camels, and sheep. The order name means "even-toed." These animals support all their body weight on the second and third toes. These toes are covered by large horny hooves. The other toes are reduced or absent. Artiodactyls all have long limbs.

Many artiodactyls have horns or antlers that grow from the frontal bones of their skull. Antlers may be grown and shed yearly (Family Cervidae), whereas horns grow throughout an animal's life (Family Bovidae). They are all herbivores and many have complex digestive systems with multi-chambered stomachs which help them digest plant material.

Family Bovidae

This family includes American Bison. American Bison once ranged in the southeastern United States, but only a relatively few in central and western USA and Canada are left.
Species in this family:
    American Bison (Bos bison)

Family Cervidae

This family includes deer, elk, and moose. These are medium to large mammals. The males of most species have antlers. One species of deer is native to the southeastern United States, as is one species of elk that was completely killed off by 1850.
Species in this family:
    Fallow Deer (Dama dama)
    White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Family Suidae

This family includes pigs, hogs, and boars. These are native to the Old World, but have been introduced into the Americas. The wild representatives look like domestic pigs, except that they are thinner and have tusks. They often travel in small herds and can cause serious damage to ground plants and to ground-nesting birds and animals.
Species in this family:
    Wild Pig (Sus scrofa)