Scimitar Horned Oryx

Oryx dammah

Class: Mammalia Order: Artiodactyla Family: Bovidae

Size

Height: 4.6 ft at the shoulder 
Weight: 220-460 lbs

Lifespan

15-20 years

Diet

Grass, herbs, roots, & buds

Habitat & Range

Desert, semi-desert, & plains

Range: This species is extinct in the wild, but they were originally found in northern Africa.

Interesting Facts

  • Scimitar-horned oryxes are recognized by their long curved horns that may reach 36 inches in length. Both males and females have horns, however the horns of females are more slender.
  • These oryxes have adapted to living in arid environments. For example, they have capillaries near their nasal passages that, when they breath, cool blood flowing to their brain. Their white hair also helps reflect the heat of the sun. They also have wide hooves to help them walk over sand without sinking.
  • During times when water is scarce, they can raise their body temperature to 116°F. At this temperature, heat leaves their body for the surrounding cooler air without losing water to perspiration.
  • Scimitar-horned oryxes may have contributed to the myth of unicorns. From certain angles, an oryx may appear to have a single horn. Also, their horns do not grow back if lost, so the myth may be based on sightings of injured individuals.

Conservation Status

Extinct in the Wild

Threats

This species is currently considered extinct in the wild as the result of overhunting and habitat loss. This species still exists in captivity, and there have been attempts to reintroduce this species to their native range.