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Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Attribute Male Female
Body Weight 42.0-85.0 kg (92.6-187.4 lb) 25.0-39.5 kg (55.1-87.1 lb)
Head and Body Length 1190-1590 mm (46.9-62.6 in) 920-1210 mm (36.2-47.6 in)
Tail Length 80-170 mm (3.1-6.7 in) 65-160 mm (2.6-6.3 in)


Data source: Alkon (2013).

General Appearance

Body shape (from Alkon 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Build
    • Stocky
    • Mid-sized ungulate
  • Horns
    • Prominent, unbranched (Alkon 2013; Groves 2013)
    • Maximum length: 1384 mm (54.5 in)
    • Features
      • Strongly recurved (scimitar-shaped) (Habibi 1994)
      • Flattened face
      • Males with horizontal knobs; up to 30
      • Not shed, as occurs with deer (Groves 2013)
    • Composition
      • Bony core covered by a keratinous sheath (Groves 2013)
  • Ears
    • Fronts with black centers and white edge
    • Backs gray
  • Tail
    • Short and dark
  • Legs
    • Short
    • Stout (Grubb and Hoffmann 2013)
  • Hooves
    • Short (Grubb and Hoffmann 2013)
    • Black

Facial characteristics (from Alkon 2013)

  • Markings
    • White hairs on chin and surrounding the mouth and nostrils
  • Eyes
    • Orbits outlined in black
    • Irises amber colored
    • Pupils horizontal and black
  • Nose
    • Rufous-brown
    • Outlined in black
  • Mouth
    • Outlined in black

Adult pelage (from Alkon 2013)

  • Tan to grayish body hair
    • In summer: short, tan guard hairs
    • In winter: brown to gray guard hairs with under-fur
  • Belly and buttocks whitish
  • Mid-dorsal (along the vertebral column and back of head) hair long
    • Dark in males
  • Legs
    • Marked with black and white
    • Fetlocks and pasterns white

Sexual Dimorphism

Highly dimorphic

  • Size (from Alkon 2013)
    • Males much heavier than females
  • Appearance (from Alkon 2013 unless otherwise noted)
    • Male features
      • Beard of long, dark hairs under the chin
      • Horns large, scimitar-shaped, with numerous knobby growths
        • Up to 1384 mm (54.5 in) in length
        • Juvenile male's as long as or longer than adult female's, by c. 1 year of age (Habibi 1994)
      • In rut, neck enlarges and coat darkens
    • Female features
      • Horns short and slender; lack knobs
        • 200-250 mm (7.9-9.8 in) in length (Habibi 1994)


Feeding adaptations (from Groves 2013)

  • Specialized teeth
    • Help grind and shred grasses and leaves
      Lower incisors and canines closely spaced to form a continuous cutting surface
      Upper canines and incisors omitted; a toothless pad
  • Large, powerful jaw muscles for chewing

Locomotor adaptations (from Groves 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Short legs and a stocky body
    • Support exceptional equilibrium (Alkon 2013)
      • Agile climbers; quickly negotiate rugged terrain
  • Wide hooves with large, flexible pads
    • Absorb shock (Alkon 2013)
      • Promote stability on narrow ledges
      • Hooves spread to help grab onto the ground

Visual adaptations (from Groves 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Eyes laterally faced; visual fields do not overlap
    • All-round vision
  • Distance vision excellent (Alkon 2013)

Other Characteristics

Chromosome number

  • 30 pairs of chromosomes (2n=60) (Alkon 2013)

Nubian Ibex


Nubian ibex are characterized by their black and white leg markings. Males have large, bony, recurved horns.

Image credit: © Michael Kemmerling from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Alkon (2013)
Groves (2013)
Grubb and Hoffmann (2013)
Habibi (1994)

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