Ten Unusual National Animals That Rival the Unicorn

Scotland doesn’t have the market cornered on exotic national symbols—check out the mouflon, the takin and the xoloitzcuintli

A shop sells nostalgic souvenirs, including a UK coat of arms, at the Portobello Road market in London. (Jon Bower/Loop Images/Corbis)

Markhor (Pakistan)

A member of the goat family, the markour (Capra falconeri) roams sparsely wooded regions in the Himalayas. The name comes from the Persian words for “snake” and “eating”, even though the animals primarily chow down on leaves and grasses. The name might instead have been inspired by the distinctive corkscrew-shaped horns, which can reach up to 63 inches long. Two of the three subspecies live in Pakistan, although the species as a whole is endangered due to habitat loss and game hunting. 

About Victoria Jaggard

Victoria Jaggard is the science editor for Smithsonian.com. Her writing has appeared in Chemical & Engineering News, National Geographic, New Scientist and elsewhere.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus