By Lenny Pierce
Meet the closest thing to Watto this side of the universe. Looking like the Toydarian junk lord we’re all familiar with, the Saiga antelope boasts a massive schnozz that allows it to withstand the brutal winters and extensive migrations necessary to its life on the central Asian steppes.
Though you may have assumed the Saiga antelope’s nose exists purely for aesthetic purposes, it actually serves a couple of important functions in the animals survival. Living in the brutal cold of central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Saiga antelope uses its long nose to heat up the cold air it inhales, allowing it to retain more of its overall body heat.
Saiga antelope sporting the latest in central Asian winter wear – a thick layer of dense fur. (Paul Johnson)
The second role of the large nose has to do with the animal’s migration. Traveling in massive herds across the dry central Asian grasslands means the available breathing air is often clouded with dust. Luckily, the inside of their trunk-like nose is an intricate system of mucus glands and hair to prevent too much dust from entering the animal’s actual respiratory system. In essence, their nose acts as a massive Honeywell air …read more