|The Hippotraginae (literally "horse-goats") have an overall
horse-like build, but are named for the erect, horse-like mane which is found
on the nape of the neck of most species. All eight Recent species are large
antelopes with heavy torsos and thick necks. The sexes resemble each other
closely in size and (generally) coloration. Both males and females possess
long horns (either straight or arcing in form) with strong transverse ridges;
the horns of males are generally thicker than those of females. There are
vivid facial markings in most species. Juveniles of all species are born
light tan all over, with only faint markings.
This subfamily is presently restricted to Africa (where they first appear in the fossil record 6.5 million years ago) and Arabia, although fossils have also been found in Europe and India from deposits 3-1.6 million years old. Kingdon (1997) hypothesized that the subfamily may have originated in Eurasia and then colonized Africa by crossing the Sahara Desert. The horse antelopes today include the most arid-adapted bovid species; no other artiodactyl has been able to challenge modern oryxes (Oryx sp.) and addax (Addax nasomaculatus) for the desert niche.
All Hippotraginae species are grazers, with high-crowned teeth designed for chewing tough, dry grasses. Species inhabit lightly wooded savannahs and arid lands across much of Africa and Arabia. One species of horse antelope - the blaubok (Hippotragus leucophaeus) - filled the horse antelope niche in southern Africa until being hunted to extinction around 1800.
(From Hernandez-Fernandez and Vrba, 2005)
or jump to the Hippotraginae Species List