sable, species of marten, Martes zibellina, found in Siberia, N European Russia, and N Finland. This carnivorous mammal is highly valued for its thick, soft fur, which is dark brown or black, sometimes with white underparts and sometimes flecked with silver. Unrestricted hunting for several centuries has exterminated the sable in some regions and dangerously reduced it in others; it now survives chiefly in the mountains of the northernmost parts of its former range. Protection is now afforded in parts of Russia, and it is raised on farms. The fur of the American marten, M. americana, sometimes called the American sable, also commands a price, although not as high as that of the true sable. Sables are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Mustelidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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