Deciduous hoof capsules on other ungulates?
April 15, 2017 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Thanks to mefi, I know the horror that is baby foal feet. But according to giraffe cam, baby giraffes do not have the hoof capsules. Why not? Do any other ungulates have them?
posted by jeather to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
"In hoofed animals, the eponychium is the deciduous hoof capsule in fetuses and newborn foals, and is a part of the permanent hoof in older animals."

The wording from Wikipedia is not great, but indicates to me that all Ungulates have them, but maybe not at birth. My guess is the giraffe's were much smaller and mostly fell off in utero.

There is a scholarly article about this cited by Wikipedia, it may help clear things up.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:12 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


It looks like they do have them. You'll have to stare pretty closely at these or these photos (sorry). If you google image search 'giraffe being born' most appear to have white feathery hoof-tips as they're coming out.
posted by Orca at 8:06 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


Horses are perissodactlys and have very large-for-their-weight hard single hooves that are cup shaped with a farily rigid capsule and sole and a small "pad" like part. The rest of a horse hoof has minimal flex and is extremely tough and hard under most conditions. So the deciduous hoof capsule protects the birth canal. Giraffes are perissodactyls with a cloven foot that is much softer and more flexible, like a cow or sheep, with almost like pads on the bottom and also much smaller for their size. I've never seen a new born giraffe but calves are just born with very soft little feet that don't harden up for a day or two. Some stuff sheds off but not like a foal where the whole capsule is shed.. As far as I know equids are the only ones with a true deciduous hoof capsule.
posted by fshgrl at 11:27 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Ack sorry- meant to say not like a foal where the extra tissue (the slippers) from the capsule sheds/ wears off. They don't shed their hoof capsule!
posted by fshgrl at 11:40 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Zebras? Rhinos?
posted by jeather at 12:56 PM on April 15


Zebras are equids so they probably do. No idea on rhinos but they're not closely related to equids so I can't imagine they share this one feature when they share so few others.
posted by fshgrl at 3:54 PM on April 15


Some further googling got me to this story about a zebra birth, and though it has the capsule, it looks very different. (I didn't look up donkeys.) I would assume that wild giraffes have feet that harden much faster than domesticated cows, though.
posted by jeather at 6:40 PM on April 15


Nah, that's what new born foals look like a lot of the time. Looks the same to me.
posted by fshgrl at 9:11 PM on April 15


I have pictures that prove a baby giraffe has the hoof capsules.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:55 PM on April 16


Katjusa, there is nothing I would like more than to see those pictures.
posted by jeather at 8:56 AM on April 25


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