There is much mystery and allure surrounding the wild muskox of Canada’s North. There are many legends and stories passed through the generations, which change a little each time they are told. Their unique characteristics and how they have adapted to survive in the Arctic make the muskox distinct from any other animal.
- The muskox and the caribou are the only two hoofed mammals, or ungulates, that survived the end of the Pleistocene Era, 10,000 years ago.
- In the 1950s, the Banks Island muskox population plummeted to only 1,000 animals. They now number over 100,000.
- The muskox is one of the most powerful land animals in the world, which they demonstrate each year when the males establish their position in the herd. Leaping off the ground, they charge toward each other at full force and clash heads together. To cushion the blow and prevent brain damage, they have an air pocket between their brain and skull.
- During the breeding season, bulls frequently utter deep rumbling roar-like bellows to challenge other males.
- Both the males and females have horns that are not shed, but rather grow larger each year.
- The largest recorded set of muskox horns was found near Perry River and measured 80 cm between the tips.
- Their front hooves are larger than their hind hooves, making it easier for the muskox to dig through snow for food.
- The under layer of fur, known as qiviut, is used to spin a wool that is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool and finer than cashmere.
- One average sized bull can result in 135 kg of meat (based on harvesting results in the Cambridge Bay area).