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Like their smaller relatives the gorals, serows are often found grazing on rocky hills, though typically at a lower elevation when the two types of animal share territory. Serows are slower and less agile than members of the genus Naemorhedus, but they are nevertheless able to climb slopes to escape predation and to take shelter during cold winters or hot summers. Serows, unlike gorals, make use of their preorbital glands in scent marking.
Coloration varies by species, region, and individual. Both sexes have beards and small horns which are often shorter than their ears.
Fossils of serow-like animals date as far back as the late Pliocene, two to seven million years ago. The common ancestor species of the Caprinae subfamily may have been very similar to modern serows.