The members of the order Artiodactyla are widely distributed almost all over
the world. These even-toed ungulates are large and medium sized animals that
provide meat, milk, hides and wool. Many artiodactyls are very popular exhibits
in the zoos. Members of this order have either two or four toes (hence called
even-toed mammals) on each foot. The first toe is absent. The second and fifth
toes are either absent or reduced in size. The most important is the third and
fourth toes which are large and equal in size and support the body weight. Each
toe is encased in a homey hoof and a single hoof cleft is present in between the
third and fourth toes (hence the name cloven-hoofed mammals). Many members
have horns or antlers. They are ground living mammals except hippopotamus.
With the exception of swine and peccaries, all the members of this order are
almost completely herbivorous animals.
All members have been placed into three suborders: Suiformes, Tylopoda and
Ruminantia. The taxonomic details are described below:
• Suborder: Suiformes (not true ruminants; two or three chambered stomach;
low-crowned cheek teeth with simple cusps; tusk I.ike canine teeth; incisor
teeth on both jaws; and absence of horns or antlers).
(i) Suidae- pig.
(ii) Tayassuidae - peccary.
(iii) Hippopotamidae - hippopotamus.
• Suborder: Tylopoda (three chambered stomach; two toes on each foot; padded foot; incisor and canine teeth on both jaws; and absence of antlers or horns).
Family: (i) Camelidae - camel, alpaca, llama, guanaco and vicuna.
• Suborder: Ruminantia (true ruminants; four chambered stomach except chevrotain; and horns or antlers present).
Families: Tragulidae - chevrotain.
Moschidae - musk deer.
Cervidae - deer.
Giraffidae - giraffe and okapi.
Bovidae- antelope, yak, wild buffalo, gaur etc.