Under Construction May 2011


Ovibos moschatus


Length: 200-350mm (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: 150-160 (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: 0.44 (ASM #1)

Medulla: 70 microns wide. (ASM #1) In one sample the medulla is present and appears as a grey-black coloration. In a second fiber sample the medulla was absent in one section, then became interrupted and then present-continuous. In the sample where the medulla was present it was easier to view it in polarized light due to the fiber’s pigmentation. It appears to have an irregular diameter appearing wider and off center at random throughout the length of the fiber.

Color: Brown, streaky quality

Scales: Scales are closely spaced with wavy margins.  Some have smooth edges and some have jagged edges.  Was not able to distinguish if they made a pattern along the length of the hair.


Length: 30-85 (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: 24-25 microns (ASM #1), 60-72 microns (ASM #2)

Medullary Index: 0.3 (ASM #2)

Medulla: No medulla present in ASM #1.  Medulla in ASM #2 is dark and hard to see individual cells, which may be ball-shaped and several across.  The medulla may be off center.  There may be some intermediate sized hairs?

Color: Brown, streaky quality and not evenly distributed throughout the diameter of the fiber. Some fibers show a concentration of brown streaky pigmentation all to one side. (ASM #1)  Pigment shows up as long brown lines (ASM #2)

Scales: Stacked crowns

Macro Qualities: 6.5 – 8.1 feet long (Forsyth 1999).  5 feet tall.  Dark brown with creamy light hair on “saddle”, forehead, and legs (ADF&G 2008).

Cultures: For example: Iñupiat (ADF&G 2008).  The soft brownish underfur is called “qivuit” and is farmed in Palmer.  Natives of Nunivak Island (who are Cup’ik) collect and spin naturally shed fibers there also. (ADF&G 2008).

Notes: ASM #1 is from the ASM education collection pelt ring, ASM #2 is from a qivuit scarf from a private collection

Troubleshooting: Width under 100 microns the thinnest of the hoofed animals in Alaska.  Between muskox and bison, easier to see a splotchy dark-and-light pattern in the muskox guard hair while the bison medulla is very dark.  Muskox medulla in the guard hair may also be off-center, and gets very narrow and disappears as it approaches the tip.  Underfur of muskox may have interrupted medulla, an intermediate sized hair, and variation in whether or not they are pigmented.  The bison underfur is uniformly pigmented with light brown and has no medulla.  Fur is often kinked and damaged from processing?  Many areas where the mounting medium can penetrate and make lighter areas in the medulla.

Range: Only on the North Slope (Forsyth 1999).  The original muskoxen of Alaska disappeared in the mid-to-late 1800’s.  In the 1930’s, 34 muskoxen captured in East Greenland were brought to Fairbanks.  In 1935-36 all surviving muskoxen from that herd were taken to Nunivak Island and released.  From there, they have been transplanted to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Thompson, the Seward Peninsula, Nelson Island, and Wrangel Island (ADF&G 2008).

Names: Order Artiodactyla (the even-toed ungulates) Family Bovidae (the bovids) “Omingmak”  in Iñupiaq.  The Greenland muskox is the one found in Alaska (ADF&G 2008).

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