A shaggy-haired Arctic ruminant of the family Bovidae. Musk-oxen are stocky and have large heads, short necks, and short, stout legs. They have a musky odour. Bulls stand about 5 feet at the shoulder and weigh about 880 pounds; cows are smaller. Horns, to about 2 feet long in old males, are present in both sexes. Females and young have smaller horns. The coat of musk-oxen is of long, dark brown hair that reaches nearly to the feet, conceals the short tail, and nearly covers the small ears. Underneath the shaggy coat is a thick wool, shed in summer. It is used by the Eskimos to make a fine cloth similar to cashmere or guanaco. Musk-oxen travel in herds, often of 20 to 30 individuals. They are not aggressive but, when attacked, form a circle with the young inside and the larger animals presenting a formidable front of horns that is effective against Arctic wolves and dogs. Some authorities, considering musk-oxen as Arctic cattle, are urging their domestication in suitable areas. They are now found in parts of northern Canada and Greenland.
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