gnu

/nooh, nyooh/, n., pl. gnus, (esp. collectively) gnu.
either of two stocky, oxlike antelopes of the genus Connochaetes, the silver-gray, white-bearded C. taurinus of the eastern African plain and the black, white-tailed C. gnou of central South Africa: recently near extinction, the South African gnu is now protected. Also called wildebeest.
[1770-80; < Khoikhoi, first recorded as t'gnu; prob. to be identified with black, as applying orig. to the black wildebeest]

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Either of two species of African antelope (genus Connochaetes).

The gnu stands higher at the shoulder than at the rump, reaching a shoulder height of 3–4 ft (1–1.3 m). The southern African form, the white-tailed gnu, or black wildebeest, is dark brown with long black tufts on the snout, chin, throat, and chest, and a black mane and flowing white tail. Today it exists only in national parks and preserves. The brindled gnu, or blue wildebeest, is reasonably abundant over much of central and South Africa. It is silvery gray with dark vertical bands on the sides and has a black mane, tail, and face, whitish cheeks, and a tuft of dark hair on chin and throat. Both sexes of both species have horns. Gnu live in often large, constantly moving herds and graze on the grasses and scrub of open plains.

White-bearded gnu (Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus)

Leonard Lee Rue III

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mammal
also called  wildebeest,  
      either of two African antelopes of the genus Connochaetes, family Bovidae (order Artiodactyla).

 The gnu, which stands higher at the shoulder than at the rump, attains a shoulder height of 1–1.3 metres (3–4 feet). The southern African form, the white-tailed gnu, or black wildebeest (C. gnou), is dark brown with long black tufts on the snout, chin, throat, and chest, and it has a black mane and flowing white tail. The horns, present in both sexes, grow forward and downward, turning up at the tips. Now extinct in the wild, the white-tailed gnu is preserved in a number of national parks and reserves. The brindled gnu, or blue wildebeest (C. taurinus), is reasonably abundant over much of central and southeastern Africa, from northern South Africa to Kenya. It is silvery gray with dark vertical bands on the sides and has a black mane, tail, and face; whitish cheeks; and a tuft of dark hair on chin and throat. The horns of the brindled gnu, present in both sexes, spread sideways and turn up at the tips. The white-bearded gnu is a subspecies (C. t. albojubatus).
      Gnu live in herds, often of large size, and graze on the grasses and scrub of open plains. Their herds are on the move almost continually as the animals seek pastures that have been renewed by the rains. They are the most abundant of all the wild grazing animals in eastern Africa. When gnu are disturbed, they dash away for a short distance and wheel around to gaze at whatever has frightened them. In flight, they toss their heads, prance about, and throw up their heels in a wild, erratic manner that is ludicrous to the human onlooker. They stay within 20–30 miles (32–48 km) of water sources, which they visit every two or three days. A single gnu calf is born after a gestation of eight to nine months. Virtually all the calves are born within a few days of each other once a year. This ensures the survival of the majority of them because lions, hyenas, and other predators can kill and eat only so many of the calves in the short span of time before the calves themselves become fast runners.

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Universalium. 2010.

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