If the Shoe Fits …

Anyone who has witnessed the sure-footedness of the Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus), seems to be in awe at how these magnificent creatures can maneuver the near-vertical slopes. Being able to get up close and personal to a lot of goats on my recent visit to Mount Evans, I made sure I captured some images that show the unique structure of their hooves, which are well adapted to the rocky mountsides they call home. The mountain goat’s foot consists of a sharp outer rim that grips and a rubbery sole that provides traction on steep or smooth surfaces. In the next 2 images, you can see how the hoof is shaped:


Closeup of Mountain Goat hoof

Closeup of Mountain Goathoof


And in the next image, you can see the bottom of the hoof on this young “kid”, detailing the rubbery soles and how the hoof can “wrap around” rock surfaces for stability:


Mountain Goat kid, showing the bottom of the hoof


I should point out that their footing is not guaranteed. Mountain goats have been known to miss their footing and fall to their death. But by far, the majority of goat deaths occur from avalanches or rock slides … even good footing is hard to persevere in these conditions!

Posted in Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Travel Photography
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