Linzey, Donald W. Wytheville Community College, Wytheville, Virginia.
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A carnivorous mammal (Martes zibellina), considered to be a type of marten and classified in the family Mustelidae. The sable (Martes zibellina) [see illustration] is a species of marten and belongs to the mammalian family Mustelidae (order Carnivora), which also includes weasels, wolverines, fishers, otters, badgers, ferrets, and minks. The sable has a very slender, long, and supple body. Coloration varies, but is usually dark brown on the back and slightly lighter on the flanks, belly, and head. The winter pelage (the coat, which includes fur plus longer, coarser guard hairs) is long, silky, and luxurious, with a particularly strong, thick undercoat; the summer pelage is shorter, coarser, duller, and darker. The legs and tail of the sable are dark. The limbs are short and terminate in five toes with semiretractile claws. The soles of the feet are covered with extremely dense, stiff hairs. The bushy tail serves as a balancing rod. The dental formula is I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 4/4, M 1/2 × 2 for a total of 38 teeth. Adult sables have a head and body length of 35–55 cm (13.8–21.7 in.), including a tail length of 12–19 cm (4.7–7.5 in.). They weigh 0.5–2 kg (1.1–4.4 lb). See also: Badger; Carnivora; Dentition; Ferret; Fisher; Mammalia; Marten; Mink; Otter; Weasel; Wolverine
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