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hartebeest

hartebeest (härˈtĭbēstˌ) [key], large African antelope of the genus Alcelaphus. The hartebeest resembles a horse with horns. It has a very long face and a small hump between the shoulders; its coat is fawn or reddish and its ringed horns curve up and inward in a U shape. Most kinds of hartebeest stand about 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder and weigh about 400 lb (180 kg). Swift animals of the plains, hartebeests usually live in herds of around a dozen animals and are often found associated with other herd animals, such as zebras, gnus, and gazelles. The common hartebeest ( A. buselaphus ) has many races, distributed through most of Africa. Although the races are given different common names (e.g., the kongoni, or Coke's hartebeest, of E Africa), they are quite similar in appearance and behavior and interbreed readily. The N African bulbul and the S African red hartebeest are extinct races of the common hartebeest. The former was known to the Romans and was very numerous until the 19th cent. Swayne's hartebeest, a small Ethiopian race, is in danger of extinction. A second species, Lichtenstein's hartebeest ( A. lichtensteini ), is found in SE Africa. An antelope related to the hartebeests, Damaliscus hunteri, is known as Hunter's hartebeest but is more properly called a damalisk. The hartebeest is 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


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