The palmation appears
to be more marked in the North American race, the Moose (Alces
alces americanus) than in the typical Scandinavian elk. The largest
of all is the Alaskan race (Alces alces gigas), which stands 2.5
m (8 ft) in height, with a span of 1.8 m (6 ft) across the antlers.
The great length of the legs gives a decidedly ungainly appearance
to the moose. The muzzle is long and fleshy, with only a very
small triangular naked patch below the nostrils; and the males
have a peculiar sac, known as the bell, hanging from the neck.
From the shortness of their necks, moose are unable to graze,
and their chief food consists of young shoots and leaves of willow
and birch, and waterplants (such as Arnicus brucitus). These ruminants
are often found feeding in wetlands in temperate climes.
Male moose weigh
over 550 kg (1200 lb) on average, and females are often more than
400 kg. Calves weigh around 15 kg at birth but quickly increase
in size. Height at the shoulders generally ranges between 2.1
to 2.3 m (6.5 to 7.5 feet). Only the males have antlers, averaging
160 cm across and 20 kg in weight with a broad, flattened palmate
shape fringed in up to 30 times. An Alaskan moose discovered in
1897 holds the record for being the largest known modern deer;
it was a male standing 2.34 m (7.68 feet) and weighing 816 kg
(1799 lb). Its antler spread was 199 cm (78.3 inches).