MOOSE

Under Construction May 2011

MOOSE

Alces alces gigas

GUARD HAIR

Length: Winter pelage 150-160mm on the mane, 50-80 for secondary guard hairs. (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969), 147mm max (Moore et al 1974), 65-80mm (ASM #1), 75-110mm (ASM #2) Diameter Range: 384 microns (Moore et al 1974), 290 -550 microns (ASM #1) 510 microns (ASM #2)

Medullary Index: N/A

Medulla: The medulla does not appear as a distinct dark line but as large round or polygon shaped cells looking a little bit like bubble wrap.  Close-packed large irregular polygons. Could also be described as “bubble pack” There can be 15-20 or more cells across the medulla (ASM #2).

Color: Some fibers are light brown, some may be very dark brown. Adorjan and Kolenosky (1969) say the winter hairs are white near the base in winter, and grey in the middle with a 10mm black band and then a black tip.  Moore et al (1974) describe a wide range of possible colorations, including all white, all black, black with a white or gray base, or a white base with brown middle and black tip (Moore et al 1974).

Scales: Scales have a definite narrow fish-scale look to them, and the big polygon shapes of the medulla should not be mistaken for the scales.  Scales have smooth edges and are often several across the width of the hair when viewed through the microscope, looking like squat polygons.  Closer to the tip they may have ragged edges.

UNDERFUR

Length: 50mm in winter (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969), 10-20mm (ASM #1), 35-40mm (ASM #2)

Diameter Range: 30 microns (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: No medulla

Medulla:  Absent or interrupted.

Color: Brown, often very pigmented, dots and dashes of pigment visible.  Adorjan and Kolenosky (1969) say underfur is grey in the winter.

Scales: Stacked crowns

Macro Qualities: Animal is 6.5 – 9.2 feet long (Forsyth 1999).  Color ranges from golden brown to almost black, depending on season and age of the animal.  Newborn calves are typically red-brown and fade to light rust in a few weeks.  The fold of hair-covered skin under the chin is called a “dewlap” or “bell” (ADF&G 2008). Moose hair is not banded, but has that illusion from dark grey bottom and blackish tips, and some hair is grayish white at the base and then more yellow-brown at the tips.

Cultures: For example:  Historically, professional hunters once provided moose meat to mining camps.  Athabascans used the moose extensively (ADF&G 2008).  Upriver hunters among the Yup’ik harvested moose ( p.245) Fienup-Riordan (2007) Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinely Live.  Masterworks of Yup’ik Science and Survival.  Anchorage Museum Association. 

Notes: ASM #1 is from the ASM education collection pelt ring, ASM #2 is from the Juneau-Douglas City Museum touchboard

Troubleshooting: No other hoofed mammal in Alaska seems to have a guard hair width over 400 microns, while moose can routinely be over 500 microns maximum. Many cervids have wavy hair…if this is lacking on moose guard hair could that be a clue?  Deer, elk and moose can all have banded guard hair.

Range: All of Alaska except the Aleutian Islands and the Yukon/ Kuskokwim river delta in western Alaska (Forsyth 1999).  The Unuk River in the Southeast panhandle to the Colville River on the Arctic Slope.  Most abundant in recently burned areas of willow, birch and aspen, along timberline plateaus, and along the major rivers of Southcentral and interior Alaska (ADF&G 2008).

Names: Artiodactyla (the even-toed ungulates) Family Cervidae (the cervids) Alces alces gigas refers to the Alaska-Yukon race and is the largest of all moose.  In Europe, moose are generally called “Elk” (ADF&G 2008).

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