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Monday, December 3, 2012

African Wild Ass

Beauty Of Animal | African Wild Ass | The African wild ass is a hardy animal which is well adapted to desert life. It can sustain water loss of up to 30% of its body weight, and can drink enough water in two to five minutes to restore fluid loss. The species was domesticated about 6,000 years ago, and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. Domestic donkeys are now found all over the world, yet only a few hundred of their wild ancestors survive. Populations of wild asses are decreasing as a result of hunting, competition with livestock for limited desert resources, and hybridization with domestic donkey.
The African wild ass is primarily active in the cooler hours between late afternoon and early morning, seeking shade and shelter amongst the rocky hills during the day.  Swift and sure-footed in their rough, rocky habitat, the African wild ass has been clocked at 50 kmph / 30 mph.  Mature males defend large territories around 23 square kilometers in size, marking them with dung heaps - an essential marker in the flat, monotonous terrain.  Due to the size of these ranges, the dominant male cannot exclude other males.
 Rather, intruders are tolerated - recognized and treated as subordinates, and kept as far away as possible from any of the resident females.  In the presence of estrous females the males bray loudly.  Despite being primarily adapted for living in an arid climate, African wild asses are dependent on water, and when not receiving the needed moisture from vegetation they must drink at least once every three days.  However, they can survive on a surprisingly small amount of liquid, and have been known to drink salty or brackish water.
Horses are perissodactyls (odd-toed ungulates), a group of herbivores that also includes rhinoceroses and tapirs. The first horses appeared in the early Eocene of North America, around 56 million years ago. 
They were the size of small dogs and had several toes on each foot, unlike the single hooves of modern horses. These early horses closely resembled the ancestors of rhinos and tapirs. They were browsers, and lived in forests and savannas. During the Miocene (25-8 mya) climate change led to a reduction in the amount of forest cover and an increase in grasslands. This was a time of great evolutionary change for the early equids, with many groups evolving larger body sizes and adapting to a grazing lifestyle. Horse diversity peaked in the mid-Miocene (11-9.5 mya), with more than a dozen different genera evolving in many different sizes.
Since that time horse diversity has gradually decreased, with all forms becoming extinct with the exception of the modern horse genus, Equus. This genus first evolved during the North American Pliocene (4.5 to 1.8 million years ago). Members of this successful genus spread throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and South America during the first major glaciations of the late Pliocene (2.6 mya). However, in the late Pleistocene (around 12,000 years ago) all of the New World horse species became extinct, along with most other large mammals in North and South America. Today, wild horses are found only in parts of Africa and Asia. They are classified into four main groups within the genus Equus:

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