Artiodactyls are a diverse group of hoofed mammals that belong to the order Artiodactyla. This order includes animals such as deer, antelope, cattle, sheep, and pigs. One of the defining characteristics of artiodactyls is their even-toed hooves, with an even number of toes on each foot. This adaptation helps them to distribute their weight evenly and move efficiently across various types of terrain.
Artiodactyls are found all over the world, in a wide range of habitats including grasslands, forests, and deserts. They are herbivores, feeding on a variety of plant material such as grasses, leaves, and fruits. Some species also have specialized diets, such as the carnivorous behavior of the omnivorous pigs.
One of the most well-known groups of artiodactyls is the ruminants, which include animals such as cattle, sheep, and deer. Ruminants have a complex stomach with multiple compartments that allow them to digest tough plant material through a process called rumination. This unique digestive system sets ruminants apart from other herbivores and is a key adaptation that has allowed them to thrive in a variety of environments. Overall, artiodactyls play a vital role in ecosystems around the world, shaping landscapes and serving as a food source for predators.