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The Hoof:

  • Ungulate is a term for any hoofed mammal.
  • The word unguis is a noun that refers to a nail, claw, hoof, or clawlike structure.
  • Cows are considered even-toed ungulates. (Pigs, camels, and deer are also even-toed ungulates.)
  • The hoof consists of hornlike dermal (skin) tissue, comparable to the human fingernail.
  • This hornlike tissue (unguis) extends over the end of a broadened terminal digit.
  • The hoof is made up of keratin (which also makes up hair, nails, horn, wool, and feathers).
  • Keratin is a fibrous protein.
  • Of the amino acids in keratin, cystine may account for up to 24%.
  • The numerous disulfide bonds formed by cystine cause keratin to be very stable.
  • Keratin is not water soluable, and it is not able to be attacked by the various enzymes that break up proteins.
  • The modern English word hoof is decended from the Middle English word (also hoof) which came from the Old English hof.

Source: http://www.brittanica.com, entries Ungulate, Hoof, Keratin.