ibex ī´bĕks [key], wild goat, genus Capra, found in rugged country on mountain ranges from central Asia to the Himalayas, S Europe, and NE Africa. Ibexes are surefooted and agile; they usually travel in small herds of about a dozen animals, feeding on a wide variety of vegetation. Most of the isolated populations of the various ranges are races of the single species Capra ibex and differ chiefly in the size of their horns. Ibexes are brown to gray, from 2 1⁄2 to 3 1⁄2 ft (76–106 cm) tall at the shoulder, and very sturdily built. The chin is bearded, and the tail is short. The long, heavily ridged horns of the male curve up, back, and downward; in the Alpine race they form a semicircle and measure 30 in. (76 cm) along the edge. In some other races the male has still longer horns. The horns of the female are short and point straight back. The Alpine race is now found only on reserves in Switzerland. Closely related species are the tur, or Caucasian ibex (C. caucasia), of SE Russia; the Spanish ibex, or Spanish tur (C. pyrenaica), now extinct in the Pyrenees but still found in other parts of the Iberian Peninsula; and the markhor (C. falconeri), of central Asia. Ibexes and other goats are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology