Bovids - Hooved, Four-Stomached Beasts
This biologically and economically important family of herbivorous hoofed animals has about 123 species of which domesticated cattle, sheep and goats must be the better known members. They most likely originated in Eurasia and then moved only recently to North America. They are absent from the wild in South America and most diverse in Africa.
Over their wide range, the bovids (or Bovidae) can be at home in almost all types of habitats from green grassland, to desert, tundra and dense forest. Along with this diversity of habitat they have great diversity in body form and size. Bovids range in sizes between buffaloes and tiny antelope. However, there are common features within the group. First, their hooves are their most common trait, the front and hind toes are split into two hooves instead of individual toes or hooves of odd numbers, like other animals. They all have a complex four-chambered stomach in which vegetable matter is degraded by micro-organism symbiosis. As part of this digestive system, they chew the cud, bringing up food from the first stomach and re-chewing it. Normally both male and female have defensive hollow horns, which are larger in the males.