This unique clan of hoofed mammals includes a vast array of rather large, primarily herbivore animals, that are sub-divided according to the number of ‘toes’ they possess. The Perissodacityla (odd number) ungulates include horses and rhinoceroses, and the Artiodactyls (even number) ungulates feature camels, cattle, deer, and pigs, to name a few of these members. Also included in the ranks are whales, dolphins, and porpoises because of their links to earlier Artiodactyls, and not because they can just ‘hoof it’ through the water. The ungulates are a significant part of the food chain primarily for predators, including humans. They also form a strange symbiotic relationship with plants. Their digestive tracts are designed to acquire energy from consuming plants, and lots of them, which looks like a one-way street for these mammals. They eat plants, but plants don’t consume cattle, unless of course, it’s a pathetic 1950’s horror movie. Looking at the whole picture starts to make sense when you take into account that a plant’s basic need is DIRT. These hoofed beasts are in the 200 to 5,000-pound range and place a lot of pressure on to the forward portion of one or two of their toes. This concentrated load is vital to crushing rocks into dust and mixing in their feces and urine to create organic dirt. From this fertilized concoction, plants now have the perfect medium to grow, diversify and prosper. Without this replenishment by billions of herding hooves, the atmospheric rains would eventually wash all the soils into the ocean’s depths. Female humans have lent a helping hand in this venture by physically stuffing their 10 toes into a pair of fashionable pumps with stiletto heels that increases the concrete crushing ability of the shoe. These ‘camel toe’ Prisses, weighing up to 400 pounds and cruising the malls, are busy at work restoring dirt for deserving plants, and reward themselves with a large salad, and a whale load of high fat dressing. 

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