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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Elk


Beauty Of Animal | Elk | The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species of deer in the world, and one of the largest land mammals in North America and East Asia. It was long believed to be a subspecies of the European red deer (Cervus elaphus), but evidence from a 2004 study of the mitochondrial DNA indicates that the two are different species.
 
This animal should not be confused with the larger moose (Alces alces) with the name "elk" applies in Eurasia. Apart from the elk, the only other member of the deer family to rival the elk in size, the South Asian Sambar (Rusa unicolor). Any offer in forest and forest-edge habitat, eating grasses, plants, leaves and bark. Although native to North America and East Asia, they have adapted well to countries where they are introduced, including Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Their great adaptability can threaten native species and ecosystems in which they were introduced.
 
Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. The males are also engaged in ritual mating behavior during the rut, including posture, antler wrestling (sparring) and bugling, a loud series of noises that established dominance over other males and attracts females. Each sensitive to a number of infectious diseases, some of which are transferred cattle. Efforts to eliminate infectious diseases from elk populations, largely through vaccination, have mixed success.Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia, antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines. Elk are hunted as a game species, the meat is leaner and higher in protein than meat or chicken

 
Early European explorers in North America, who were familiar with the smaller red deer of Europe, thought that the great North American animals looked like a moose, and thus gave it the name moose, which is the common European name for elk. The word moose is related to the Latin alces, Old Norse elgr, Scandinavian elg / algae and German Nurnberg, all of which refer to the animal known in North America as the moose.The name wapiti is from the Shawnee and Cree word waapiti, which means "white rump." This name is used in particular for the Asian subspecies (Altai wapiti, Tian Shan wapiti, Manchurian and Alashan wapiti wapiti), since the name moose in Eurasia are still used for the elk.
 
Asian subspecies are sometimes referred to as the maral, but this name is mostly applicable to the Caspian red deer (Cervus elaphus maral), a subspecies of red deer. There is a subspecies of elk in Mongolia called the Altai wapiti (Cervus canadensis sibiricus), also known as the Altai Maral, Siberian Siberian elk or moose. (This use of the "Siberian moose" is ambiguous because the name also refers to Alces alces ssp. Cameloides Members of the genus Cervus (and asked relatives or possible ancestors of the moose) first appear in the fossil record 25 million years ago during the Oligocene in Eurasia, but not in the North American fossils appear until the early Miocene. The extinct Irish Elk (Megaloceros) was not a member of the genus Cervus, but the largest member of the wider deer family (Cervidae) known from the fossils

Until recently, red deer and elk regarded as a species, Cervus elaphus. But mitochondrial DNA analysis, performed on hundreds of samples in 2004 from red deer and elk subspecies and other species of the Cervus deer family, are strong indications that elk, or wapiti, a separate species, namely Cervus canadensis. The previous format had more than a dozen subspecies under the C. elaphus species designation; DNA evidence concludes that elk are more closely related to Thorold's deer Sika deer and even then they are for the red deer. Although elk and red deer can produce fertile offspring in captivity, geographic isolation between the species in the wild and differences in mating behavior to indicate that reproduction between them outside a controlled environment would be unlikely. However, the two species have quite inter-bred in New Zealand Fiordland National Park, where the cross-bred animals have all but the pure elk blood removed from the area.
 
There are numerous subspecies of elk described, with six from North America and four from Asia, although some taxonomists consider them different ecotypes or varieties of the same species (adapted to local environments through minor changes in appearance and behavior). The populations differ on antler shape and size, body size, color and mating behavior. DNA testing of the Eurasian subspecies revealed that phenotypic variation in antlers, mane and rump patch development are based on "climatic-related lifestyle factors." Of the six subspecies of elk known to have inhabited North America in historic times, four, still including the Roosevelt (C. canadensis roosevelti), Tule (C. canadensis nannodes), Manitoban (C. canadensis manitobensis) and Rocky Mountain (C. canadensis nelsoni).  The Eastern elk (C. canadensis canadensis) and Merriam's Elk (C. canadensis merriami) subspecies are extinct for at least a century
 
Four subspecies described in Asia include the Altai Wapiti (C. canadensis sibiricus) and the Tianshan Wapiti (C. canadensis songaricus). Two distinct subspecies found in China and Korea are the Manchurian wapiti (C. canadensis xanthopygus) and the Alashan wapitis (C. canadensis alashanicus). The Manchurian wapiti is darker and more reddish in color than the other populations. The Alashan wapiti in north central China is the smallest of all subspecies, the lightest color and has been studied the least. Biologist Valerius Geist, who has written about the different species of deer in the world, states that only three subspecies of elk. Geist recognizes the Manchurian and Alashan wapiti but places all other elk in the C. canadensis canadensis, argue that the classification of the four remaining North American groups as subspecies is driven at least partly for political purposes to individualized conservation and protective measures to secure for each of the surviving populations.

Recent DNA studies indicate that no more than three or four subspecies of elk. All American forms appear to belong to a subspecies (Cervus canadensis canadensis). Even the Siberian elk (Cervus canadensis sibiricus) are more or less identical to the American forms and, therefore, belong to this subspecies, too. However the Manchurian wapiti (Cervus canadensis xanthopygus) is clearly distinct from the Siberian forms, but indistinguishable from the Alashan wapiti. The Chinese forms MacNeill's Deer, Kansu deer, and Tibetan red deer are also among the wapitis and were indistinguishable from each other by mitochondrial DNA analysis. This Chinese subspecies are sometimes treated as a separate species, namely the Central Asian Red Deer (Cervus wallichi), including the Kashmir stag

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