The skull of this animal was a sensation for the 19th century. For a long time, scientists believed that the saiga antelopes lived in Asian steppes for a relatively short time. Suddenly, at the extreme north-east of Russia, in 1876, the geography scientist I.D. Chersky discovered a saiga's skull.
It was supposed that the saiga antelope is a very ancient animal. Even nowadays it is called a living fossil. The ancient saiga, which lived roughly 250 thousand years ago, had few differences from the modern one. The remains of this antelope were found in West Europe, in an ancient asphalt lake in Baku, Georgia, and in the US state of Alaska. But it is still unclear, as to where and from whom did this antelope evolve?
The saiga is a slim, lightly built, smallish antelope (around 75 cm in the shoulders), exclusively adapted to life in the open steppes. It has a meaty, wide nose with a complex in-built filtering system that prevent dust (the saiga runs with its head close to the ground) from getting into the breathing organs. It is quite unknown, in what steppes could such amazing adaptations appear? Other features of the animal tell about a way of life in very severe climatic conditions, with a regular shortage of food. The saiga is a real northern antelope.
In Walking with... SeriesEdit
In the last episode of Walking with Beasts, the saiga has made a small cameo as the rightful companion of the Ice Age mammals, filmed live, rather that CCG'd.