A frosty visit to living relics, muskox
January 6, 2016 11:41 AM   Subscribe

In a remote corner of the world a living relic from a prehistoric age still exists. A creature that once roamed the northern plains alongside mammoths and sabertooth cats.
In Between is a short video that takes you to visit muskox in their frozen habitat.

Muskoxen have historically been associated with the hunting cultures of early mankind. Their meat and hides were used for food, clothing, and shelter, while the horns and bones were carved to make tools and crafts.

During the Ice Age, muskoxen were found as far south as Kansas, but as the ice and tundra receded northward, so did the muskox. They currently roam the arctic tundra of northern Canada and Greenland and have been successfully returned to Alaska and Russia. A small introduced population also exists in Scandinavia.

There was a drastic musk ox population decline 12,000 years ago due to climate, not humans, and more recently unregulated commercial harvesting caused the disappearance of muskoxen from large areas of their Canadian continental ranges in the late 1880s, but the global populations have broadly been on the rise after they were protected and reintroduced. Still, climate change is impacting their habitats, as musk oxen appear to be moving further south as one was spotted [in 2012] in northern Alberta, and their ability to adapt to significant environmental change is [generally] poor, as evidenced by their complete loss from Asia and Europe; native populations persist only in tundra environments of Arctic North America.
posted by filthy light thief (24 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fuck yea, a Muskox!
posted by basicchannel at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted, but have absolutely no real need, something knitted from qiviut because, according to that link and my minimal research into things it

is stronger and warmer than sheep's wool, and softer than cashmere wool.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:08 PM on January 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've always wanted, but have absolutely no real need, something knitted from qiviut

So I was totally curious, especially about the "modified bison crush" (who knew there were even bison crushes?) since, like, bison aren't exactly domestication-friendly. UA Fairbanks had me covered: apparently harvesting is not as gnarly as I'd have thought. (Also, callout from that first link to Bailey D Buffalo Jr. who is your roadtrip companion...)
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:28 PM on January 6, 2016


You can order qiviut online!

But st $85/oz, I've never had the guts to knit anything. Plus, I'm not that good of a knitter.

But if you ever make it to Fairbanks, the Large Animal Research Station is a nice place to visit. You can usually see musk ox from the grassy area without having to pay for the tour (although the tour is always interesting and lets you see that caribou and reindeer up close, and sometimes the baby musk ox).
posted by leahwrenn at 12:31 PM on January 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Muskox Muskox, not very dirty
posted by doiheartwentyone at 12:40 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Any discussion on the muskox needs to be augmented by the Hinterland Who's Who: The Muskox. It's a Canadian thing.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:46 PM on January 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


"A" is for Muskox because Muskox are AWESOME!
posted by v-tach at 12:50 PM on January 6, 2016


So, what were they like? [holds microphone up to musk ox's face]
posted by clockzero at 12:59 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


There was recently a headline in one of the local papers, regarding a recently-established bison preserve, that read

BISON DOING FINE; SOME VISITORS NEED EDUCATING,

handily winning my 2015 award for journalistic excellence.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:28 PM on January 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Who's the floofiest ungulate? It's you! You're the floofiest ungulate!
posted by Hypatia at 2:12 PM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


The Muskox is a lovely animal. Despite their appearance, they have a surprising turn of speed.

....

You are now smarter than I was in my 20s.
posted by LegallyBread at 2:54 PM on January 6, 2016


What host of a popular game show is also a Friend of the Musk Ox?
posted by BWA at 2:55 PM on January 6, 2016


The video was very artfully done but the VO was distractingly melodramatic. This is about the muskox and the world they inhabit, man, not you and your affected drama.
posted by jnnla at 2:57 PM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


The video was very artfully done but the VO was distractingly melodramatic.

Yes, I had the same reaction. The whole thing was more about blowing snow than about muskoxen — it provided no clear shots of them and nothing about their summer/winter ecology. Sure, global warming is serious business, but if you want to make that point, first make me really like and somewhat understand these critters. Then hit me with the message.

Anyway, another interesting thing I learned, via the Wikipedia page, is that they are actually a lot smaller than you might think from the film — typically 4-5 feet tall at the shoulder, 5-8 feet in length, and average weight 630 pounds. A typical modern-day Holstein dairy cow, by comparison, weighs 1500 pounds. (Although a 600-pound cow would have been a standard animal 200 years ago.)
posted by beagle at 3:04 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seeing them in pictures on a clear day makes them look like foofy bovines, reminding me of heavy horned cattle or bison. Seeing them facing the wind in a blowing snow storm brings home the idea that they truly are prehistoric critters.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:04 PM on January 6, 2016


I also want something made from qiviut, but in my case it's mostly because I like Scrabble.

I will have my QIVIUT, I will pay for it with QINDARKA, and I will wear it when I chew QAT.
posted by box at 6:31 PM on January 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Do you think they miss the mammoths :(
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:32 PM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Gin and Comics: "Do you think they miss the mammoths :("

I know I do, and I never even met any. :(
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:28 PM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Muskoxen are amazing!

Those who love them, and who understand French, might want to see this beautiful, austere film by Pierre Perrault.
posted by remembrancer at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Muskoxen meat is delicious, if memory serves.
posted by monotreme at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2016


jnnla: The video was very artfully done but the VO was distractingly melodramatic. This is about the muskox and the world they inhabit, man, not you and your affected drama.

I felt the same way - I liked the visuals enough, but felt I should round it out with some discussion of the animals he fails to mention until the very end. (Also, he makes it sound like there's 25 of them, living on some shrinking island of permafrost, when their conservation status is least concern, unlike their least distant relatives, the golden-fleeed takins, who are considered vulnerable due to habitat loss.

beagle: Yes, I had the same reaction. The whole thing was more about blowing snow than about muskoxen — it provided no clear shots of them and nothing about their summer/winter ecology

To remedy that: Viking Wilderness - Muskox High Speed Collision, an Animal Planet clip of Muskox stomping in spring foliage and butting heads. And here's I Am A Musk Ox Farmer, from Indie Alaska films, with more muskox at rest. The Musk Ox Farm also has more videos on YouTube, including froicking musk ox calves. Happy Friday!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:45 PM on January 8, 2016


Bonus: Takin camera trap footage in China, from World Wildlife Fund, and Baby Takin jumps, climbs and explores habitat at the San Diego Zoo.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:46 PM on January 8, 2016


There needs to be a word for "I've just learned about a new animal that I want to pet"
posted by KirTakat at 1:34 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Shaggifüzzen
posted by moonmilk at 6:56 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


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