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Moufflon: an early species of sheep

The moufflon (Ovis musimon) is a wild sheep that is thought to be one of the ancestors of the modern farmed sheep.

A fully grown mouflon is around 120-140 centimetres (47-55 inches) long, 60-120 cms (23-47 inches) high at the shoulder and weighs from 25 to 55 kgs (55-121 lbs).

The coat is reddish-brown with a dark stripe on the back and a light-coloured saddle patch and underparts. Male moufflons have a mane and very large spiral horns.

Evolution is behind the size and splendour of the ram’s horns, which arch back and then swing round to the front in a graceful loop that frames the ram’s face. The bigger they are, the greater the ram’s status in the herd and more likely he is to be able to fight off rivals and ensure that the next generation carry his genes.

Fights only take place when the horns are not impressive enough to frighten off an opponent. The heads go down and the horns bash against each. Hence the reason why rams are called rams!

Unfortunately, mouflon horns are also prized as trophies and many a splendid mouflon ram has lost his life to a hunter as a result. Moufflons originated on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Cyprus, but very few live there now. Fortunately, the species was introduced to mainland Europe where it continues to thrive.

(The photo is not my own but was taken from a copyright-free source)

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