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A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus Gazella, or formerly considered to belong to it. Six species are included in two genera, Eudorcas and Nanger, which were formerly considered subgenera. The genus Procapra has also been considered a subgenus of Gazella, and its members are also referred to as gazelles, though they are not dealt with in this article.
Gazelles are known as swift animals – some are able to run at bursts as high as 60 mph (97 km/h), or run at a sustained speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). Gazelles are mostly found in the deserts, grasslands, and savannas of Africa, but they are also found in southwest and central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. They tend to live in herds and will eat less coarse, easily digestible plants and leaves.
Gazelles are rather small antelopes, most standing 2–3.5 ft (61–107 cm) high at the shoulder, and are generally fawn-colored.
The gazelle genera are Gazella, Eudorcas, and Nanger. The taxonomy of these genera is a confused one, and the classification of species and subspecies has been an unsettled issue. Currently, the genus Gazella is widely considered to contain about 13 species. Four further species are extinct – the red gazelle, the Arabian gazelle, the Queen of Sheba's gazelle, and the Saudi gazelle. Most surviving gazelle species are considered threatened to varying degrees. Closely related to the true gazelles are the Tibetan and Mongolian gazelles (species of the genus Procapra), the Blackbuck of Asia, and the African Springbok.
One widely familiar gazelle is the African species Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsoni), which is around 60 to 80 cm (24 to 31 in) in height at the shoulder and is coloured brown and white with a distinguishing black stripe. The males have long, often curved, horns. Like many other prey species, Tommies and Springboks (as they are familiarly called) exhibit a distinctive behaviour of stotting (running and jumping high before fleeing) when they are threatened by predators, such as Cheetahs.
Etymology and name
Gazelle is derived from the Arabic name ġazāl. The first Romance language to adopt it was Middle French, and the word entered the English language around 1600 from the French. Arab people traditionally hunted the gazelle. Appreciated for its grace, it is a symbol most commonly associated in Arabic literature with female beauty. One of the traditional themes of Arabic love poetry involves comparing the gazelle with the beloved, and linguists theorize ghazal, the word for love poetry in Arabic, is related to the word for gazelle. It is related that the Caliph Abd al-Malik (646–705) freed a gazelle he had captured because of her resemblance to his beloved:
The gazelle are divided into three genera and numerous species.
- Genus Gazella
- Genus Eudorcas
- Genus Nanger
Fossils of genus Gazella are found in Pliocene and Pleistocene deposits of Eurasia and Africa. The tiny Gazella borbonica is one of the earliest European gazelles, characterized by its small size and short legs. Gazelles disappeared from Europe at the start of Ice Age, but they survived in Africa and Middle East. Three species became extinct in recent times due to human causes.
- Genus Gazella
- [[sommerial gazella
]], G. arabica
- Genus Gazella
- Subgenus Vetagazella
- Gazella sinensis
- Gazella deperdita
- Gazella pilgrimi- steppe gazelle
- Gazella leile - Leile's gazelle
- Gazella praegaudryi - Japanese gazelle
- Gazella gaudryi
- Gazella paotehensis
- Gazella dorcadoides
- Gazella altidens
- Gazella mongolica - Mongolian gazelle
- Gazella lydekkeri - Ice Age gazelle
- Gazella blacki
- Gazella parasinensis
- Gazella kueitensis
- Gazella paragutturosa
- Subgenus Gazella
- Subgenus Trachelocele
- Subgenus Deprezia
- Genus Nanger
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- Merriam-Webster - Gazelle, Accessed: 22 December 2009
- Behrens-billAbouseif, Doris (1999). Beauty in Arabic culture (Illustrated ed.). Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 53. ISBN 9781558761995.
- Necipoğlu, Gülru (1997). Gülru Necipoğlu, ed. Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World (Illustrated ed.). BRILL. ISBN 9789004108721.
- "Antilopinae". Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- Participants at 4th International Conservation Workshop for the Threatened Fauna of Arabi 2003. Gazella saudiya. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 7 October 2006.
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Gazella saudiya. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 December 2008.
- Geraads, D., et al. (2012). "Pliocene Bovidae (Mammalia) from the Hadar Formation of Hadar and Ledi-Geraru, Lower Awash, Ethiopia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32 (1): 180–197. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.632046.
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- Quotations related to Gazelles at Wikiquote