Domestic sheep are descended from the moufflon (Ovis orientalis) that is found from the mountains of Turkey to southern Iran. It has been found by DNA analysis to be one of two ancestors of domestic sheep. Although the second ancestor has not been identified, both the urial and argali have been ruled out. The urial (Ovis vignei) is found from northeastern Iran to northwestern India. It has a higher number of chromosomes (58) than domestic sheep (54) which makes it an unlikely ancestor of the latter, but as it interbreeds with the moufflon. The argali sheep (Ovis ammon) of inner Asia (Tibet, Himalayas, Altai, Tien-Shan and Pamir) has 56 chromosomes and the Siberian snow sheep (Ovis nivicola) with 52 chromosomes.













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The European moufflon (Ovis musimon) found on Corsica and Sardinia as well as the Cretan and the extinct Cypriot wild sheep are probably descended from early domestic sheep that turned feral. Early domesticated sheep have been found in PPNB Jericho and Zawi Chemi Shanidar. The fleece-bearing sheep is only found since the Bronze Age. Primitive breeds, like the Scottish Soay sheep have to be plucked, not sheared, as the kemps are still longer than the soft fleece, (a process called rooing) or the fleece must be collected from the field after it falls out.

Above Images Come From The Courtesy of the USDA
















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