Capra (genus)

Last updated

Temporal range: 2.58–0  Ma
Koze iznad St.Leonarda, Juzhni Tirol, Italija.jpg
Capra, St. Leonhard in Passeier, Italy
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Tribe: Caprini
Genus: Capra
Linnaeus, 1758
Type species
Capra hircus

See text.

Capra range map2.jpg
Approximate range of the Capra species

Capra is a genus of mammals, the goats, comprising ten species, including the markhor and several species known as ibexes. The domestic goat (Capra hircus) is a domesticated species derived from the bezoar ibex (Capra aegagrus aegagrus). Evidence of goat domestication dates back more than 8,500 years.


Wild goats are animals of mountain habitats. They are very agile and hardy, able to climb on bare rock and survive on sparse vegetation. They can be distinguished from the genus Ovis , which includes sheep, by the presence of scent glands close to the feet, in the groin, and in front of the eyes, and the absence of other facial glands, and by the presence of a beard in some specimens, and of hairless calluses on the knees of the forelegs. [1]


Male Nubian ibex Capra nubiana, Tierpark Hellabrunn - 03.jpg
Male Nubian ibex
Caprine heart. Caprine heart.jpg
Caprine heart.

All members of the genus Capra are bovids (members of the family Bovidae), and more specifically caprines (subfamily Caprinae). As such they are ruminants, meaning they chew the cud, and have four-chambered stomachs which play a vital role in digesting, regurgitating, and redigesting their food.

The genus has sometimes been taken to include Ovis (sheep) and Ammotragus (Barbary sheep), [2] but these are usually regarded as distinct genera, leaving Capra for ibexes. In this smaller genus, some authors have recognized only two species, the markhor on one side and all other forms included in one species on the other side. [3] Today, nine wild species are usually accepted to which is added the domestic goat: [4]

The goats of the genus Capra have complex systematic relationships, which are still not completely resolved. Recent studies based on mitochondrial DNA suggest that the Asian ibex and the Nubian ibex represent distinct species, which are not very closely related to the physically similar Alpine ibex. The Alpine ibex forms a group with the Iberian ibex. The West Caucasian tur appears to be more closely related to the wild goat than to the East Caucasian tur. The markhor is relatively little separated from other forms—previously it had been considered to be a separate branch of the genus. [7]

Almost all wild goat species are allopatric (geographically separated)—the only geographical overlaps are the wild goat (Capra aegagrus) with the East Caucasian tur (Capra cylindricornis), and the markhor (Capra falconeri) with the Asian ibex (Capra sibirica). In both cases, the overlapping species do not usually interbreed in the wild, but in captivity, all Capra species can interbreed, producing fertile offspring. [8]

Species and subspecies

ImageScientific nameCommon NameDistribution
Steinbock-P1150170.jpg Capra sibirica Asian ibex Central & North Asia, Afghanistan, West and North China (mainly Xinjiang), NW India, SE Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, North Pakistan, South Russia, Tajikistan, East Uzbekistan.
Markhor Schraubenziege Capra falconeri Zoo Augsburg-02.jpg Capra falconeri Markhor South Asia; the Karakoram and Himalaya ranges.
Gorges du Verdon Goat-Rove-black 0253.jpg Capra hircus Domestic goat Cosmopolitan distribution; domesticated.
Bezoarziege.jpg Capra aegagrus Wild goat Turkey, the Caucasus to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan
Daghestanischer Tur Ostkaukasischer Steinbock Capra cylindricornis Zoo Augsburg-10 (cropped).jpg Capra cylindricornis East Caucasian tur Greater Caucasus Mountains.
Capra caucasica1.JPG Capra caucasica West Caucasian tur Caucasus Mountains.
SteinbockGabinten.jpg Capra ibex Alpine ibex Austria, Bavaria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia & Switzerland.
Cabra montes 2.jpg Capra pyrenaica Iberian ibex Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Pyrenees Mountains, Spain to Portugal.
Nubian Ibex in Negev.JPG Capra nubiana Nubian ibex Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. [9]
Walia ibex 2.jpg Capra walie Walia ibex Ethiopian Highlands & Simien Mountains.

Domestication and uses

Goats used for natural weed control Goats as weed control.jpg
Goats used for natural weed control
Ibex securely climbing rocky slope Ibex in the French Vanoise National Park.JPG
Ibex securely climbing rocky slope

Along with sheep, goats were among the first domesticated animals. The domestication process started at least 10,000 years ago in what is now northern Iran. [10] Easy human access to goat hair, meat, and milk were the primary motivations. Goat skins were popularly used until the Middle Ages for water and wine bottles when traveling and camping, and in certain regions as parchment for writing.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bovidae</span> Family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

The Bovidae comprise the biological family of cloven-hoofed, ruminant mammals that includes cattle, yaks, bison, buffalo, antelopes, sheep and goats. A member of this family is called a bovid. With 143 extant species and 300 known extinct species, the family Bovidae consists of 11 major subfamilies and thirteen major tribes. The family evolved 20 million years ago, in the early Miocene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ibex</span> Type of mammal

An ibex is any of several species of wild goat , distinguished by the male's large recurved horns, which are transversely ridged in front. Ibex are found in Eurasia, North Africa and East Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alpine ibex</span> Species of mammal

The Alpine ibex, also known as the steinbock, is a European species of goat that lives in the Alps. It is one of ten species in the genus Capra and its closest living relative is the Iberian ibex. The Alpine ibex is a sexually dimorphic species; males are larger and carry longer horns than females. Its coat is brownish-grey. Alpine ibexes tend to live in steep, rough terrain and open alpine meadows. They can be found at elevations as high as 3,300 m (10,800 ft) and their sharp hooves allow them to scale their mountainous habitat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Markhor</span> Species of mammal

The markhor is a large wild Capra (goat) species native to South Asia and Central Asia, mainly within Pakistan, India, the Karakoram range, parts of Afghanistan, and the Himalayas. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened since 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kri-kri</span> Feral goat

The Kri-Kri, sometimes called the Cretan goat, Agrimi, or Cretan Ibex, is a feral goat inhabiting the Eastern Mediterranean, previously considered a subspecies of wild goat. The Kri-Kri today is found only in Greece: specifically on Crete and on three small islands off its coast ; as well as on the island of Sapientza off the southwestern coast of Peloponnese, where it was brought in great numbers in order to protect the species from extinction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wild goat</span> Species of mammal

The wild goat is a wild goat species, inhabiting forests, shrublands and rocky areas ranging from Turkey and the Caucasus in the west to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east. It has been listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List and is threatened by destruction and degradation of habitat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iberian ibex</span> Species of wild goat endemic to the Iberian Peninsula

The Iberian ibex, also known as the Spanish ibex, Spanish wild goat and Iberian wild goat, is a species of ibex endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. Four subspecies have been described; two are now extinct. The Portuguese ibex became extinct in 1892, and the Pyrenean ibex became extinct in 2000. A project to clone the Pyrenean ibex resulted in one clone being born alive in July 2003, making it the first taxon to become "un-extinct", although the clone died several minutes after birth due to physical defects in its lungs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nubian ibex</span> Species of mammal

The Nubian ibex is a desert-dwelling goat species found in mountainous areas of northern and northeast Africa, and the Middle East. It was historically considered to be a subspecies of the Alpine ibex, but is now considered a distinct species. The wild population is estimated at 4,500 mature individuals, and it is classified as vulnerable.

The Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Naltar Valley near Nomal, in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The sanctuary was created on 22 November 1975 and consists of a steep-sided forested valley with high mountains on either side. The sanctuary is home to a number of large mammals, including a small number of Astor markhor.

Afghanistan has long been known for diverse wildlife. Many of the larger mammals in the country are categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as globally threatened. These include the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, Siberian musk deer, markhor, urial, and the Asiatic black bear. Other species of interest are the ibex, the gray wolf, and the brown bear, striped hyenas, and numerous bird of prey species. Most of the Marco Polo sheep and ibex are being poached for food, whereas wolves, snow leopards and bears are being killed for damage prevention.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shahdag National Park</span> Historic site in Oğuz Rayon , Şamaxı Rayon

Shahdag National Park — is a national park of Azerbaijan. It was established on an area of 115,900 hectares (1,159 km2) in the Quba Rayon, Qusar Rayon, İsmayıllı Rayon, Qəbələ Rayon, Oğuz Rayon and Şamaxı Rayon administrative districts on December 8, 2006. It was enlarged by presidential decree on July 8, 2010 from 115,900 hectares (1,159 km2) to 130,508.1 hectares (1,305.081 km2).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siberian ibex</span> Species of mammal

The Siberian ibex, also known using regionalized names including Altai ibex,Asian ibex, Central Asian ibex, Gobi ibex, Himalayan ibex, Mongolian ibex or Tian Shan ibex, is a polytypic species of ibex, a wild relative of goats and sheep. It lives in Central Asia, and is, by far, the most widely-distributed species in the genus Capra. In terms of population stability, Siberian ibex are currently ranked as Near Threatened, mostly due to over-hunting, low densities and overall decline; still, reliable data is minimal and difficult to come by, in addition to the animals’ expansive natural range, so accurate observations are still scant. The Siberian ibex has, formerly, been treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian Alpine ibex, and whether or not it is a single species or a complex of distinct units that stand out as genetically-distinct is still not entirely clear. The Siberian ibex is the longest and heaviest member of the genus Capra, though its shoulder height is slightly surpassed by the markhor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bezoar ibex</span> Subspecies of goat

The bezoar ibex is a wild goat subspecies that is native to the montane forested areas in the Caucasus and the Zagros Mountains.

The Chiltan ibex or Chiltan goat is a wild goat endemic to Chiltan, Balochistan, Pakistan.

Sarcocystis is a genus of parasitic Apicomplexan alveolates. Species in this genus infect reptiles, birds and mammals. The name is derived from Greek: sarkos = flesh and kystis = bladder.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bovidae in Chinese mythology</span>

Bovidae in Chinese mythology include various myths and legends about a group of biologically distinct animals which form important motifs within Chinese mythology. There are many myths about the animals modernly classified as Bovidae, referring to oxen, sheep, goats, and mythological types such as "unicorns". Chinese mythology refers to those myths found in the historical geographic area of China, a geographic area which has evolved or changed somewhat through history. Thus this includes myths in Chinese and other languages, as transmitted by Han Chinese as well as other ethnic groups. There are various motifs of animals of the Bovidae biological family in Chinese mythology. These have often served as allusions in poetry and other literature. Some species are also used in the traditional Chinese calendar and time-keeping system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyrenean ibex</span> Extinct subspecies of Iberian ibex

The Pyrenean ibex, Aragonese and Spanish common name bucardo, Basque common name bukardo, Catalan common name herc and French common name bouquetin, was one of the four subspecies of the Iberian ibex or Iberian wild goat, a species endemic to the Pyrenees. Pyrenean ibex were most common in the Cantabrian Mountains, Southern France, and the northern Pyrenees. This species was common during the Holocene and Upper Pleistocene, during which their morphology, primarily some skulls, of the Pyrenean ibex was found to be larger than other Capra subspecies in southwestern Europe from the same time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pshav-Khevsureti National Park</span> National park in Georgia

Pshav-Khevsureti National Park is in Dusheti Municipality, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of Georgia. Park has been established by direct involvement of World Wide Fund for Nature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Domestication of the goat</span>

Goat evolution is the process by which domestic goats came to exist through evolution by natural selection. Wild goats — medium-sized mammals which are found in noticeably harsh environments, particularly forests and mountains, in the Middle East and Central Asia — were one of the first species domesticated by modern humans, with the date of domestication generally considered to be 8,000 BC. Goats are part of the family Bovidae, a broad and populous group which includes a variety of ruminants such as bison, cows and sheep. Bovids all share many traits, such as hooves and a herbivorous diet and all males, along with many females, have horns. Bovids began to diverge from deer and giraffids during the early Miocene epoch. The subfamily Caprinae, which includes goats, ibex and sheep, are considered to have diverged from the rest of Bovidae as early as the late Miocene, with the group reaching its greatest diversity in the ice ages.


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