Warning: Look away if you fear heights!
For a human being, a fear of heights is a healthy thing. But God designed goats to face altitude with attitude and to take death-defying feats in stride.
How on earth can the Alpine ibex walk so calmly on such an impossibly steep slope? The secret is in the Creator’s design for its hooves:
Hook the Ledges
The wall of the hoof is like a hard, curved toenail that wraps around the front and outside of each toe. Sometimes called the horn, it can hook onto small crags, and its shape spreads the stress evenly around the nail’s curve to increase its strength.
Spread the Weight
Each hoof is split into two toes, which splay out to spread the goat’s weight over a greater area. The goat can hang on with just one toe when the foothold is especially narrow.
Grip the Ground
A flexible rubbery pad inside the curve of the tough wall grips rocks and irregularities. When the terrain is really rough, it squishes up out of the way so the outside can get down into the cracks to hook onto a toehold.