Episode 257 – Markhor: Nature is Metal Gear

“And today we’re talking about a gruff goat with a wooly throat. But more on that later.”

High up in the mountains of central Asia lives a giddy goat with a lot of panache and a penchant for stomping its enemies into the dirt. But the rumor mill stops for no goat, not even for the Markhor, and this cud-chewer’s legendary hooves have earned it a name that have led to an unusual fascination with its spit. But expecting exceptional expectoration is all part of Life, Death and Taxonomy. 

Description of the Markhor

  • Light brown to black coat
  • Females can sometimes have a reddish brown coat.
  • Smooth and short in summer and thick in winter
  • Black and white legs
  • Long corkscrew horns
  • Males have long-haired, neckbeards 

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at Gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro!


  • 65 to 115 centimeters (26 to 45 in) at the shoulder
  • How many Markhors would it take to go the distance an alpha particle can travel in one second?
  • Hint: An alpha particle is made of two neutrons and two protons, which shoot out of a large unstable nucleus in a process called alpha decay. It’s the heaviest type of radiation and goes slower than other radioactive particles. It also slows down and eventually stops. It can be stopped with something as thin as tissue paper. 
  • 18,332,160 Markhors. Alpha particles travel at 7% the speed of light or 13,020 miles per second.


  • 32 to 110 kilograms (71 to 243 lb)
  • Around 222 markhors go into the weight of this bomb, which was dropped in 1961 34 miles from the village of Severny in Russia.
  • Hint: The bomb was 26 feet long, with a seven foot diameter. 
  • The Tsar bomb was 27 tons.

Fast Facts about the Markhor


Native to central Asia, the himalayas, and the karakoram mountain range.


They are well-adapted to mountain terrains and they can be found as high as 11,800 ft. They enjoy scrub forests where they graze and browse in the early morning and late afternoon. Grazing is eating short grasses while browsing is eating leaves and soft shoots.


Mating season is during the winter. Males will spare with their horns to push the other off-balance.

Other Facts

Males have a strong smell, and they are stinkier than domestic goats.

They are the national animal of pakistan.

Predators include the eurasian lynx, snow leopards, Himalayan wolf, and brown bear. Sometimes the golden eagle.

Major Fact: Nature is Metal Gear

“Markhor” is actually a Persian word that literally means “snake eater.” 

But hold on, you might say, aren’t markhors goats? And don’t goats mainly eat plants and people’s shirts? It’s not a carnivore, is it?

Well, I’d say “Impressive, most impressive. Your time listening to our show has done you well.” Mammals that eat other animals are usually in the order Carnivora, so what’s the deal with this snake-eating business?

It’s a myth, that’s what. They don’t eat snakes at all and the practice has never been officially documented. 

However, they do have the ability to absolutely lose their minds when a snake comes around and trample it to death, so it’s definitely a snake killer.

Regardless, this doesn’t stop the superstition train. Locals actually sometimes collect the dried foam that the markhor produces when chewing the cud in order to use it to cure snakebite venom.

That’s all well and good since you don’t need to interact with the goats to waste your time with fake remedies.

On the other hand, in Chinese traditional medicine, their ground horns are used to treat headaches, fevers, and rheumatism – so their often hunted for just their horns.

Ending: So maintain sure footing, keep your horns twisty, and pretend to eat some snakes on some planes like the markhor in LDT.