See D. Mackenzie, Goat Husbandry (3d ed. 1970).
Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus)
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Any hollow-horned ruminant in the bovid genus Capra. Goats have a lighter build and straighter hair than sheep; their horns arch backward; and the tail is short. Males usually have a beard. Wild goats include the ibex and markhor. Domesticated goats are descended from the pasang, which is probably native to Asia. In China, Great Britain, Europe, and North America, the domestic goat is primarily a milk producer; much of the milk is used to make cheese. Some breeds, notably the Angora and cashmere, are raised for their wool; young goats are the source of kid leather.
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(Latin: “Goat horn”) In astronomy, the constellation lying between Aquarius and Sagittarius; in astrology, the tenth sign of the zodiac, governing approximately the period December 22–January 19. It is represented as a goat with what appears to be a fishtail. One explanation for this odd depiction is that it derives from the Greek myth of Pan. To avoid the monster Typhon, Pan jumped into the water just as he was changing into animal shape. The half of his body above water became a goat, while the submerged half took the shape of a fish. Another relates the form to the Mesopotamian deity Enki (see Ea).
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Many species became extinct since the last ice age, probably largely because of human interaction. Of the survivors:
Members of the group vary considerably in size, from just over long for a full-grown grey goral (Nemorhaedus goral), to almost long for a musk ox, and from under to more than . Musk oxen in captivity have reached over .
In lifestyle, the caprids fall into two broad classes, resource-defenders which are territorial and defend a small, food-rich area against other members of the same species, and grazers, which gather together into herds and roam freely over a larger, usually relatively infertile area.
The resource-defenders are the more primitive group: they tend to be smaller in size, dark in colour, males and females fairly alike, have long, tassellated ears, a long mane, and dagger-shaped horns. The grazers evolved more recently. They tend to be larger, highly social, and rather than mark territory with scent glands, they have highly evolved dominance behaviours. There is no sharp dividing line between the groups, but a continuum between the serows at one end of the spectrum and sheep, true goats, and musk oxen at the other.
The ancestors of the modern sheep and goats (both rather vague and ill-defined terms) are thought to have moved into mountainous regions – sheep becoming specialised occupants of the foothills and nearby plains, and relying on flight and flocking for defence against predators, and goats adapting to very steep terrain where predators are at a disadvantage.