Searching for Saiga



Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

– Mammalia

– Artiodactyla

– Bovidae


Saiga tatarica


Despite being commonly referred to as an antelope these ungulates are actually a cross between an antelope and a sheep (Lushchekin, 2007). The Saiga is classified in the kingdom animalia because it is a living animal, organisms such as the Tardigrades, Antlions, and the Brown Hive Snail are classified in this same category. It is then classified in the phyla chordata because it is a vertebrate along with other animals such as the Bigfin Reef Squid. It is a part of the class mammalia since it is an endothermic mammal with a four chambered heart along with animals such as the Blue Whale. The Saiga is a part of the artiodactyla order because it is a hoofed animal that bears most of its weight equally between its third and fourth toes. It is a part of the bovidae family because it has cloven hooves, meaning that they split into two. It is also a part of this family because it is a ruminant. Finally, being a part of the Saiga genus leads to this specific animal. The species name can be classified even further from Saiga tatarcia to Saiga tatarcia mongolica or Saiga tatarcia tatarcia based upon the region that it can be found in.

There are many species that are closely realted to Saiga, one common example that is present within the United States is the bighorn sheep (Ovis Canadensis).











This phylogenetic tree shows the relationship between the different types of Saiga and its close relationship with both gazelles and antelopes. While the two different forms of the Saiga are not withing the same brach on the tree they do share a common ancestor not too long ago during the process of evolution. All of these animals have similar body shape, similar digestiive processes, are hoofed animals, along with a few other traits that they share. This phylogenetic tree coincides with the picture in the upper right of this page as this photograph also depicts Saiga, gazelles and antelopes. From this photograph it is clear that the animals have a similar body plan and are closely realted to one another.


This phylogenic tree depicts the relationship of the Saiga tartarica and other closely related antelopes common in different countries.  They tend to inhabit places like Africa, India, and parts of Asia. They share a common antelope-like ancestor that was known to have existed three hundred million years ago.  The morphology of the antelopes show their divergence along the tree lines.  The species differentiate in appearance when considering antlers and facial features. All of them, however strongly resemble the everyday antelope.  




To learn about the home of the Saiga please visit the habitat page, or refer back to the home page.