Out In The Cold
BBC Earth|September - October 2020
Out In The Cold
It walked alongside mammoths and mastodons during the last Ice Age and can weather savage blizzards and bone-chilling temperatures on a landscape locked in snow. Meet Earth’s ultimate winter warrior: The Musk OX
Michel d’Oultremont 

It’s February, and the tundra of Norway’s Dovrefjell National Park is firmly in winter’s grip. Musk oxen died out in Europe after the last Ice Age, but were re-introduced to Dovrefjell in the mid-1900s. Along with Sweden’s Rogen Nature Reserve, this is the only place in Europe where these impressive creatures live in the wild. “Musk oxen are wonderful animals, straight from another age,” says Michel. “To see one is to go back in time.”

The musk ox’s famously long, thick coat – which comprises a layer of guard hairs over a shorter, insulative undercoat, known as qiviut – is key to survival during the bitter winter months. The distinctly curved horns, borne by both males and females, are used as a defence against Arctic wolves, and also to establish dominance within the herd.


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September - October 2020