The moose (in North America) or elk (in Eurasia) (Alces alces) is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the only species in the genus Alces. It is the largest and heaviest extant species in the deer family. Most adult male moose have distinctive broad, palmate (\"open-hand shaped\") antlers; most other members of the deer family have antlers with a dendritic (\"twig-like\") configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose's range over time. It has been reintroduced to some of its former habitats. Currently, most moose occur in Canada, Alaska, New England (with Maine having the most of the lower 48 states), New York State, Fennoscandia, the Baltic states, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
Its diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Predators of moose include wolves, bears, humans, wolverines (rarely), and orcas (while feeding underwater). Unlike most other deer species, moose do not form herds and are solitary animals, aside from calves who remain with their mother until the cow begins estrus (typically at 18 months after birth of the calf), at which point the cow chases them away. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive, and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.
Alces alces is called a \"moose\" in North American English, but an \"elk\" in British English. The word \"elk\" in North American English refers to a completely different species of deer, Cervus canadensis, also called the wapiti. A mature male moose is called a bull, a mature female a cow, and an immature moose of either sex a calf.
Confusingly, the word \"elk\" is used in North America to refer to a different animal, Cervus canadensis, which is also called by the Algonquian indigenous name, \"wapiti\". The British began colonizing America in the 17th century, and found two common species of deer for which they had no names. The wapiti appeared very similar to the red deer of Europe (which itself was then almost extinct in Southern Britain) although it was much larger and was not red; the two species are indeed closely related, though distinct behaviorally and genetically. The moose was a rather strange-looking deer to the colonists, and they often adopted local names for both. In the early days of American colonization, the wapiti was often called a gray moose and the moose was often called a black moose, but early accounts of the animals varied wildly, adding to the confusion.
The word \"moose\" had first entered English by 1606 and is borrowed from the Algonquian languages (compare the Narragansett moos and Eastern Abenaki mos; according to early sources, these were likely derived from moosu, meaning \"he strips off\"), and possibly involved forms from multiple languages mutually reinforcing one another. The Proto-Algonquian form was *moswa.
Early European explorers in North America, particularly in Virginia where there were no moose, called the wapiti \"elk\" because of its size and resemblance to familiar-looking deer like the red deer. The moose resembled the \"German elk\" (the moose of continental Europe), which was less familiar to the British colonists. For a long time neither species had an official name, but were called a variety of things. Eventually, in North America the wapiti became known as an elk while the moose retained its indigenous name. In 1736, Samuel Dale wrote to the Royal Society of Great Britain:
The common light-grey moose, called by the Indians, Wampoose, and the large or black-moose, which is the beast whose horns I herewith present. As to the grey moose, I take it to be no larger than what Mr. John Clayton, in his account of the Virginia Quadrupeds, calls the Elke ... was in all respects like those of our red-deer or stags, only larger ... The black moose is (by all that have hitherto writ of it) accounted a very large creature. ... The stag, buck, or male of this kind has a palmed horn, not like that of our common or fallow-deer, but the palm is much longer, and more like that of the German elke.
Bull moose have antlers like other members of the deer family. Size and asymmetry in the number of antler points signals bull moose quality; cows may select mates based on antler size and asymmetry. Bull moose use dominant displays of antlers to discourage competition and will spar or fight rivals. The size and growth rate of antlers is determined by diet and age; symmetry reflects health.
The antlers of mature Alaskan adult bull moose (5 to 12 years old) have a normal maximum spread greater than 200 centimeters (79 in). By the age of 13, moose antlers decline in size and symmetry. The widest spread recorded was 210 centimeters (83 in) across. An Alaskan moose also holds the record for the heaviest weight at 36 kilograms (79 lb).
Antler beam diameter, not the number of tines, indicates age. In North America, moose (A. a. americanus) antlers are usually larger than those of Eurasian moose and have two lobes on each side, like a butterfly. Eurasian moose antlers resemble a seashell, with a single lobe on each side. In the North Siberian moose (A. a. bedfordiae), the posterior division of the main fork divides into three tines, with no distinct flattening. In the common moose (A. a. alces) this branch usually expands into a broad palmation, with one large tine at the base and a number of smaller snags on the free border. There is, however, a Scandinavian breed of the common moose in which the antlers are simpler and recall those of the East Siberian animals. The palmation appears to be more marked in North American moose than in the typical Scandinavian moose.
After the mating season males drop their antlers to conserve energy for the winter. A new set of antlers will then regrow in the spring. Antlers take three to five months to fully develop, making them one of the fastest growing animal organs. Antler growth is \"nourished by an extensive system of blood vessels in the skin covering, which contains numerous hair follicles that give it a 'velvet' texture.\" This requires intense grazing on a highly-nutritious diet. By September the velvet is removed by rubbing and thrashing which changes the colour of the antlers. Immature bulls may not shed their antlers for the winter, but retain them until the following spring. Birds, carnivores and rodents eat dropped antlers as they are full of protein and moose themselves will eat antler velvet for the nutrients.
If a bull moose is castrated, either by accidental or chemical means, he will shed his current set of antlers within two weeks and then immediately begin to grow a new set of misshapen and deformed antlers that he will wear the rest of his life without ever shedding again; similarly deformed antlers can result from a deficiency of testosterone caused by cryptorchidism or old age. These deformed antlers are composed of living bone which is still growing or able to grow, since testosterone is needed to stop antler growth; they may take one of two forms. \"Cactus antlers\" or velericorn antlers usually retain the approximate shape of a normal moose's antlers but have numerous pearl-shaped exostoses on their surface; being made of living bone, they are easily broken but can grow back. Perukes (US: /pəˈruːks/) are constantly growing, tumor-like antlers with a distinctive appearance similar to coral. Like roe deer, moose are more likely to develop perukes, rather than cactus antlers, than the more developed cervine deer, but unlike roe deer, moose do not suffer fatal decalcification of the skull as a result of peruke growth, but rather can support their continued growth until they become too large to be fully supplied with blood. The distinctive-looking perukes (often referred to as \"devil's antlers\") are the source of several myths and legends among many groups of Inuit as well as several other tribes of indigenous peoples of North America.
The moose proboscis is distinctive among the living cervids due to its large size; it also features nares that can be sealed shut when the moose is browsing aquatic vegetation. The moose proboscis likely evolved as an adaptation to aquatic browsing, with loss of the rhinarium, and development of a superior olfactory column separate from an inferior respiratory column. This separation contributes to the moose's keen sense of smell, which they employ to detect water sources, to find food under snow, and to detect mates or predators.
On firm ground, a bull moose leaves a visible impression of the dewclaws in its footprint, while a cow moose or calf does not leave a dewclaw impression. On soft ground or mud, bull, cow, and calf footprints may all show dewclaw impressions.
Both male and female moose have a dewlap or bell, which is a fold of skin under the chin. Its exact function is unknown, but some morphologic analyses suggest a cooling (thermoregulatory) function. Other theories include a fitness signal in mating, as a visual and olfactory signal, or as a dominance signal by males, as are the antlers.
The moose is a browsing herbivore and is capable of consuming many types of plant or fruit. The average adult moose needs to consume 96 megajoules (23,000 kilocalories) per day to maintain its body weight. Much of a moose's energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation, mainly consisting of forbs and other non-grasses, and fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch. As these terrestrial plants are rather low in sodium, as much as half of their diet usually consists of aquatic plants, including lilies and pondweed, which while lower in energy content, provides the moose with its sodium requirements. In winter, moose are often drawn to roadways, to lick salt that is used as a snow and ice melter. A typical moose, weighing 360 kg (794 lb), can eat up to 32 kg (71 lb) of food per day. 59ce067264