Institut für Biologie der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


Date of this Version


Document Type



Erforschung biologischer Ressourcen der Mongolei (2012) band 12: 77-84.


Copyright 2012, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle Wittenberg, Halle (Saale). Used by permission.


A collection of recent skeletal remains from the Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus hemionus PALLAS) was prepared and stored in the Museum of Domesticated Animals “JULIUS KÜHN” in Halle, Germany.

The collection is based on carcass remains sampled between 2001 and 2006 under the leadership of Michael Stubbe during joint Mongolian-German Biological Expeditions

Skeletal remains of 43 individual specimens were studied (18 mares, 15 stallions, and 10 juvenile asses). The determination of sex and age was initially based on carcass information from observations made in situ in the field. Subsequently, skull traits, including dentition and development of canine teeth were included to determine the ages of individuals. All animals were classified by age using histomorphological sections and observations of the tooth structure. During this study, Individual ages ranged from a foal under one year to an 18-year old stallion.

The osteometric measurements of the fully grown long bones (humerus, radius, femur, tibia, and metacarpalia) were performed according to A. von den Driesch, 1976. The quantitative analysis of size and shape of long bones allows a description of the morphology of the species. Commonly, this method is used for archaeozoological remains. Here the same method is applied to the largest preserved set of skeletons of the recent population of wild asses from the southern Mongolian Gobi.

As expected, morphometric traits studied show no differences between left and right hand side and comparisons of standard morphometric traits predominantly show no sexual dimorphism with one exception: A highly significant difference is found in the length of the humerus between sexes.

It may be hypothesized that this sexual dimorphism is linked to an elaborate anti-predator defense strategy against wolves. Apparently differences in the length of the humerus cause a small shift in the proportion of the forehand.