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Snow sheep

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Snow sheep
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Genus: Ovis
O. nivicola
Binomial name
Ovis nivicola

The snow sheep (Ovis nivicola) is a sheep in the family Bovidae. It lives in Siberia.[2][3]

Scientists put the snow sheep in the subgenus Pachyceros. They are in the same group as bighorn sheep and thinhorn sheep. The bighorns and thinhorns live in North America and the snow sheep live in Eurasia. The snow sheep used to be called the Asiatic bighorn sheep.

Scientists do not all agree on how many subspecies of snow sheep there are:[3][4]

  • Koryak (Ovis nivicola koryakorum)
  • Kamchatka sheep (Ovis nivicola nivicola)
  • Okhotsk sheep (Ovis nivicola alleni)
  • Yablonov sheep (Ovis nivicola potanini)
  • Putorian sheep (Ovis nivicola borealis)
  • Yakut sheep (Ovis nivicola lydekkeri)
  • Kodar sheep (Ovis nivicola kodarensis)

Appearance[change | change source]

The adult male snow sheep can weigh 70-100 kg (155-222 lbs). The adult female snow sheep can weigh 40-70 kg (90-155 lbs). This is heavier than most sheep. They have very thick, curly horns that can be a meter long.[5]

Home[change | change source]

The snow sheep live further north than any other Eurasian sheep. They live in a large part of Russia with mountains in it.[3][2]

Snow sheep like open places without many trees or large bushes.[5]

Food[change | change source]

Snow sheep eat grasses, green plants, and sedge. They can also eat lichen and pine needles.[5] Like other sheep, snow sheep lick clay for the salt. The kodar subspecies eats coal, but scientists are not sure why.[4]

History[change | change source]

Snow sheep and thinhorn sheep became two separate species around the time the last ice age ended, 10,000 to 18,000 years ago.[6] Scientists think the sheep became different species because the water melted and covered the Bering land bridge.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Harris, R.B.; Tsytsulina. K. (2008). "Snow Sheep: Ovis dalli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: e.T15740A5076357. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T15740A5076357.en. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Maulik Upadhyay; Andreas Hauser; Elisabeth Kunz; Stefan Krebs; Helmut Blum; Arsen Dotsev; Innokentiy Okhlopkov; Vugar Bagirov; Gottfried Brem; Natalia Zinovieva; Ivica Medugorac (2020). "The First Draft Genome Assembly of Snow Sheep (Ovis nivicola)". Genome Biology and Evolution. 12 (8): 1330–1336. doi:10.1093/gbe/evaa124. PMC 7487135. PMID 32592471. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 T. D. Bunch; C. Wu; Y.-P. Zhang; S. Wang (2006). "Phylogenetic Analysis of Snow Sheep (Ovis nivicola) and Closely Related Taxa". Journal of Heredity. 97 (1): 21–30. doi:10.1093/jhered/esi127. PMID 16267166. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Meet Siberia's new snow sheep, a 'super-climber' with a taste for eating coal". Siberian Times. February 17, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Mike Nuttall, ed. (September 23, 2005). Encyclopedia of the Arctic. Taylor & Francis. p. 1895. ISBN 978-1-136-78680-8. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  6. "Thinhorn Sheep in British Columbia" (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Retrieved July 23, 2021.