Muskox of Noyon

Unknown Hooeed MAMMALof ancient Central Asia.

Physical description: Long, dense hair. Broad head. Horns like a muskox's. Bull-like muzzle. Habitat: Mountainous terrain. Distribution: Mongolia; north-central Siberia. Significant sightings: Carvings depicting an animal like a muskox were discovered in 1924 on two silver plaques excavated from Xiongnu (Hun) burial tombs dating from the first century B.C in the Noyon Uul Mountains, Mongolia.

Muskox skulls dating from 1800-900 B.C were found in 1948 on the Taymyr Peninsula, Siberia; they appear to have drill holes. Another subfossil skull was found in 1984 in the same vicinity.

Possible explanations:

(1) The Muskox (Ovibos moschatus), a large bovid with broad, flat horns and long, silky hair, is thought to have died out in Eurasia at the end of the Pleistocene, though it has survived in North America. Its apparent persistence nearly 8,000 years later has not been demonstrated conclusively.

(2) Other explanations for the carvings have included an Argali wild sheep (Ovis ammon), a Yak (Bos grunniens), and a Takin (Budorcas taxicolor).

Sources: Nikolai Spassov, "The Musk Ox in Cryptozoology 10 (1991): 4-15; Peter C. Lent, Eurasia: Extinct at the Pleistocene-Holocene "More on Muskoxen," Cryptozoology 12 Boundary or Survivor to Historical Times?" (1996): 91-94.

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