Cattle—colloquially cows—are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, are most classified collectively as Bos taurus. Cattle are raised as livestock for meat, for milk, for hides, which are used to make leather, they are used as riding animals and draft animals. Another product of cattle is dung, which can be used to create fuel. In some regions, such as parts of India, cattle have significant religious meaning. Cattle small breeds such as the Miniature Zebu, are kept as pets. Around 10,500 years ago, cattle were domesticated from as few as 80 progenitors in central Anatolia, the Levant and Western Iran. According to an estimate from 2011, there are 1.4 billion cattle in the world. In 2009, cattle became one of the first livestock animals to have a mapped genome; some consider cattle the oldest form of wealth, cattle raiding one of the earliest forms of theft. Cattle were identified as three separate species: Bos taurus, the European or "taurine" cattle.
The aurochs is ancestral to both taurine cattle. These have been reclassified as one species, Bos taurus, with three subspecies: Bos taurus primigenius, Bos taurus indicus, Bos taurus taurus. Complicating the matter is the ability of cattle to interbreed with other related species. Hybrid individuals and breeds exist, not only between taurine cattle and zebu, but between one or both of these and some other members of the genus Bos – yaks and gaur. Hybrids such as the beefalo breed can occur between taurine cattle and either species of bison, leading some authors to consider them part of the genus Bos, as well; the hybrid origin of some types may not be obvious – for example, genetic testing of the Dwarf Lulu breed, the only taurine-type cattle in Nepal, found them to be a mix of taurine cattle and yak. However, cattle cannot be hybridized with more distantly related bovines such as water buffalo or African buffalo; the aurochs ranged throughout Europe, North Africa, much of Asia. In historical times, its range became restricted to Europe, the last known individual died in Mazovia, Poland, in about 1627.
Breeders have attempted to recreate cattle of similar appearance to aurochs by crossing traditional types of domesticated cattle, creating the Heck cattle breed. The noun cattle encompasses both sexes; the singular, technically means the female, the male being bull. The plural form cows is sometimes used colloquially to refer to both sexes collectively, as e.g. in a herd, but that usage can be misleading as the speaker's intent may indeed be just the females. The bovine species per se is dimorphic. Cattle did not originate as the term for bovine animals, it was borrowed from Anglo-Norman catel, itself from medieval Latin capitale'principal sum of money, capital', itself derived in turn from Latin caput'head'. Cattle meant movable personal property livestock of any kind, as opposed to real property; the word is a variant of chattel and related to capital in the economic sense. The term replaced earlier Old English feoh ` property', which survives today as fee; the word "cow" came via Anglo-Saxon cū, from Common Indo-European gʷōus = "a bovine animal", compare Persian: gâv, Sanskrit: go-, Welsh: buwch.
The plural cȳ became ki or kie in Middle English, an additional plural ending was added, giving kine, but kies and others. This is the origin of the now archaic English plural, "kine"; the Scots language singular is coo or cou, the plural is "kye". In older English sources such as the King James Version of the Bible, "cattle" refers to livestock, as opposed to "deer" which refers to wildlife. "Wild cattle" may refer to undomesticated species of the genus Bos. Today, when used without any other qualifier, the modern meaning of "cattle" is restricted to domesticated bovines. In general, the same words are used in different parts of the world, but with minor differences in the definitions; the terminology described here contrasts the differences in definition between the United Kingdom and other British-influenced parts of the world such as Canada, New Zealand and the United States. An "intact" adult male is called a bull. A wild, unmarked bull is known as a micky in Australia. An unbranded bovine of either sex is called a maverick in the Canada.
An adult female that has had a calf is a cow. A young female before she has had a calf of her own and is under three years of age is called a heifer. A young female that has had only one calf is called a first-calf heifer. Young cattle of both sexes are called calves until they are weaned weaners until they are a year old in some areas. After that, they are referred to as stirks if between one and two years of age. A castrated male is called a steer in the United States.
The gaur called the Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine. This species is native to Southeast Asia, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. Population decline in parts of its range is to be more than 70% during the last three generations. However, population trends are stable in well-protected areas, are rebuilding in a few areas, neglected; the gaur is the tallest of wild cattle species. The Malayan gaur is called seladang, the Burmese gaur is called pyoung ပြောင်; the domesticated form of the gaur is called mithun. The gaur is a strong and massively built species with a high convex ridge on the forehead between the horns, which protrudes anteriorly, causing a deep hollow in the profile of the upper part of the head. There is a prominent ridge on the back; the ears are large. The adult male is dark brown, approaching black in old individuals; the upper part of the head, from above the eyes to the nape of the neck, is ashy grey, or dirty white. The muzzle is pale coloured, the lower part of the legs are pure white or tan.
The cows and young bulls are paler, in some instances have a rufous tinge, most marked in groups inhabiting dry and open areas. The tail is shorter than in the typical oxen, reaching only to the hocks, they have a distinct ridge running from the shoulders to the middle of the back. This ridge is caused by the great length of the spinous processes of the vertebrae of the fore-part of the trunk as compared with those of the loins; the hair is short and glossy. The gaur has a head-and-body length of 250 to 330 cm with a 70 to 105 cm long tail, is 142 to 220 cm high at the shoulder, averaging about 168 cm in females and 188 cm in males. At the top of its muscular hump just behind its shoulder, an average adult male is just under 200 cm tall and the male's girth at its midsection averages about 277 cm. Males are heavier than females. Body mass can range from 440 to 1,000 kg in adult females and 588 to 1,500 kg in adult males. In general measurements are derived from gaurs surveyed in India. Indian gaur males averaged about 840 kg and females weigh a median of 700 kg.
Body masses elsewhere suggest. For example, males from China can weigh 1,200 kg or more; the Seladang, or Malayasian subspecies, appears to be larger on average than the nominate race from India, but sample sizes as known are small. According to some sources, seladang bulls weigh on average 1,000 to 1,300 kg, which if accurate indicates these animals are on average more than 20% more massive than the gaurs of India. Gaurs do not have a distinct dewlap on the chest. Both sexes carry horns, curving upwards. Between the horns is a high convex ridge on the forehead. At their bases they present an elliptical cross-section, a characteristic, more marked in bulls than in cows; the horns are decidedly flattened at the base and curved throughout their length, are bent inward and backward at their tips. The colour of the horns is some shade of pale green or yellow throughout the greater part of their length, but the tips are black; the horns, of medium size by large bovid standards, grow to a length of 60 to 115 cm.
The cow is lighter in make and in colour than the bull. The horns are more slender and upright, with more inward curvature, the frontal ridge is scarcely perceptible. In young animals the horns are polished. In old bulls they are dented at the base. Gaurs are among the largest living land animals. Only elephants, the hippopotamus and the giraffe grow heavier. Two species that co-exist with the gaur are heavier: the Asian elephant and Indian rhinoceros. By most standards of measurements, gaur is the largest wild bovid alive today. However, the shorter-legged, bulkier wild water buffalo is similar in average body mass, if not maximum weight. Gaur occurred throughout mainland South and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, India, Bhutan and Nepal. Today, the range of the species is fragmented, it is regionally extinct in Sri Lanka. Gaur are confined to evergreen forests or semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests, but occur in deciduous forest areas at the periphery of their range.
Gaur habitat is characterized by large undisturbed forest tracts, hilly terrain below an altitude of 1,500 to 1,800 m, availability of water, an abundance of forage in the form of grasses, bamboo and trees. Their apparent preference for hilly terrain may be due to the earlier conversion of most of the plains and other low-lying areas to croplands and pastures, they occur from sea level to an altitude of at least 2,800 m. Low-lying areas seem to comprise optimal habitat. In Vietnam, several areas in Đắk Lắk Province were known to contain gaur in 1997. Several herds persist in adjacent state forest enterprises; the current status of
Animals are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, grow from a hollow sphere of cells, the blastula, during embryonic development. Over 1.5 million living animal species have been described—of which around 1 million are insects—but it has been estimated there are over 7 million animal species in total. Animals range in length from 8.5 millionths of a metre to 33.6 metres and have complex interactions with each other and their environments, forming intricate food webs. The category includes humans, but in colloquial use the term animal refers only to non-human animals; the study of non-human animals is known as zoology. Most living animal species are in the Bilateria, a clade whose members have a bilaterally symmetric body plan; the Bilateria include the protostomes—in which many groups of invertebrates are found, such as nematodes and molluscs—and the deuterostomes, containing the echinoderms and chordates.
Life forms interpreted. Many modern animal phyla became established in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion which began around 542 million years ago. 6,331 groups of genes common to all living animals have been identified. Aristotle divided animals into those with those without. Carl Linnaeus created the first hierarchical biological classification for animals in 1758 with his Systema Naturae, which Jean-Baptiste Lamarck expanded into 14 phyla by 1809. In 1874, Ernst Haeckel divided the animal kingdom into the multicellular Metazoa and the Protozoa, single-celled organisms no longer considered animals. In modern times, the biological classification of animals relies on advanced techniques, such as molecular phylogenetics, which are effective at demonstrating the evolutionary relationships between animal taxa. Humans make use of many other animal species for food, including meat and eggs. Dogs have been used in hunting, while many aquatic animals are hunted for sport.
Non-human animals have appeared in art from the earliest times and are featured in mythology and religion. The word "animal" comes from the Latin animalis, having soul or living being; the biological definition includes all members of the kingdom Animalia. In colloquial usage, as a consequence of anthropocentrism, the term animal is sometimes used nonscientifically to refer only to non-human animals. Animals have several characteristics. Animals are eukaryotic and multicellular, unlike bacteria, which are prokaryotic, unlike protists, which are eukaryotic but unicellular. Unlike plants and algae, which produce their own nutrients animals are heterotrophic, feeding on organic material and digesting it internally. With few exceptions, animals breathe oxygen and respire aerobically. All animals are motile during at least part of their life cycle, but some animals, such as sponges, corals and barnacles become sessile; the blastula is a stage in embryonic development, unique to most animals, allowing cells to be differentiated into specialised tissues and organs.
All animals are composed of cells, surrounded by a characteristic extracellular matrix composed of collagen and elastic glycoproteins. During development, the animal extracellular matrix forms a flexible framework upon which cells can move about and be reorganised, making the formation of complex structures possible; this may be calcified, forming structures such as shells and spicules. In contrast, the cells of other multicellular organisms are held in place by cell walls, so develop by progressive growth. Animal cells uniquely possess the cell junctions called tight junctions, gap junctions, desmosomes. With few exceptions—in particular, the sponges and placozoans—animal bodies are differentiated into tissues; these include muscles, which enable locomotion, nerve tissues, which transmit signals and coordinate the body. There is an internal digestive chamber with either one opening or two openings. Nearly all animals make use of some form of sexual reproduction, they produce haploid gametes by meiosis.
These fuse to form zygotes, which develop via mitosis into a hollow sphere, called a blastula. In sponges, blastula larvae swim to a new location, attach to the seabed, develop into a new sponge. In most other groups, the blastula undergoes more complicated rearrangement, it first invaginates to form a gastrula with a digestive chamber and two separate germ layers, an external ectoderm and an internal endoderm. In most cases, a third germ layer, the mesoderm develops between them; these germ layers differentiate to form tissues and organs. Repeated instances of mating with a close relative during sexual reproduction leads to inbreeding depression within a population due to the increased prevalence of harmful recessive traits. Animals have evolved numerous mechanisms for avoiding close inbreeding. In some species, such as the splendid fairywren, females benefit by mating with multiple males, thus producing more offspring of higher genetic quality; some animals are capable of asexual reproduction, which results
Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge
A mineral is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound that occurs in pure form. A rock may consist of a single mineral, or may be an aggregate of two or more different minerals, spacially segregated into distinct phases. Compounds that occur only in living beings are excluded, but some minerals are biogenic and/or are organic compounds in the sense of chemistry. Moreover, living beings synthesize inorganic minerals that occur in rocks. In geology and mineralogy, the term "mineral" is reserved for mineral species: crystalline compounds with a well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure. Minerals without a definite crystalline structure, such as opal or obsidian, are more properly called mineraloids. If a chemical compound may occur with different crystal structures, each structure is considered different mineral species. Thus, for example and stishovite are two different minerals consisting of the same compound, silicon dioxide; the International Mineralogical Association is the world's premier standard body for the definition and nomenclature of mineral species.
As of November 2018, the IMA recognizes 5,413 official mineral species. Out of more than 5,500 proposed or traditional ones; the chemical composition of a named mineral species may vary somewhat by the inclusion of small amounts of impurities. Specific varieties of a species sometimes have official names of their own. For example, amethyst is a purple variety of the mineral species quartz; some mineral species can have variable proportions of two or more chemical elements that occupy equivalent positions in the mineral's structure. Sometimes a mineral with variable composition is split into separate species, more or less arbitrarily, forming a mineral group. Besides the essential chemical composition and crystal structure, the description of a mineral species includes its common physical properties such as habit, lustre, colour, tenacity, fracture, specific gravity, fluorescence, radioactivity, as well as its taste or smell and its reaction to acid. Minerals are classified by key chemical constituents.
Silicate minerals comprise 90% of the Earth's crust. Other important mineral groups include the native elements, oxides, carbonates and phosphates. One definition of a mineral encompasses the following criteria: Formed by a natural process. Stable or metastable at room temperature. In the simplest sense, this means. Classical examples of exceptions to this rule include native mercury, which crystallizes at −39 °C, water ice, solid only below 0 °C. Modern advances have included extensive study of liquid crystals, which extensively involve mineralogy. Represented by a chemical formula. Minerals are chemical compounds, as such they can be described by fixed or a variable formula. Many mineral groups and species are composed of a solid solution. For example, the olivine group is described by the variable formula 2SiO4, a solid solution of two end-member species, magnesium-rich forsterite and iron-rich fayalite, which are described by a fixed chemical formula. Mineral species themselves could have a variable composition, such as the sulfide mackinawite, 9S8, a ferrous sulfide, but has a significant nickel impurity, reflected in its formula.
Ordered atomic arrangement. This means crystalline. An ordered atomic arrangement gives rise to a variety of macroscopic physical properties, such as crystal form and cleavage. There have been several recent proposals to classify amorphous substances as minerals; the formal definition of a mineral approved by the IMA in 1995: "A mineral is an element or chemical compound, crystalline and, formed as a result of geological processes." Abiogenic. Biogenic substances are explicitly excluded by the IMA: "Biogenic substances are chemical compounds produced by biological processes without a geological component and are not regarded as minerals. However, if geological processes were involved in the genesis of the compound the product can be accepted as a mineral."The first three general characteristics are less debated than the last two. Mineral classification schemes and their definitions are evolving to match recent advances in mineral science. Recent changes have included the addition of an organic class, in both the new Dana and the Strunz classification schemes.
The organic class includes a rare group of minerals with hydrocarbons. The IMA Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names adopted in 2009 a hierarchical scheme for the naming and classification of mineral groups and group names and established seven commissions and four working groups to review and classify minerals into an official listing of their published names. According to these new r
The moose or elk, Alces alces is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the largest and heaviest extant species in the Deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males. Moose inhabit boreal forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose's range over time. Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Most moose are found in Canada, New England, Baltic states, Russia, their diet consists of both aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose do not form herds and are solitary animals, aside from calves who remain with their mother until the cow begins estrus, at which point the cow chases away young bulls. Although slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move if angered or startled, their mating season in the autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.
Alces alces is called an "elk" in British English. The word "elk" in North American English refers to a different species of deer, the Cervus canadensis called the wapiti. A mature male moose is called a bull, a mature female a cow, an immature moose of either sex a calf; the word "elk" originated in Proto-Germanic, from which Old English evolved and has cognates in other Indo-European languages, e.g. elg in Danish/Norwegian. In the continental-European languages, these forms of the word "elk" always refer to the Alces alces; the word "moose" had first entered English by 1606 and is borrowed from the Algonquian languages, involved forms from multiple languages mutually reinforcing one another. The Proto-Algonquian form was *mo·swa; the moose became extinct in Britain during the Bronze Age, long before the European arrival in the Americas. The youngest bones were found in Scotland and are 3,900 years old; the word "elk" remained in usage because of its existence in continental Europe but, without any living animals around to serve as a reference, the meaning became rather vague to most speakers of English, who used "elk" to refer to "large deer" in general.
Dictionaries of the 18th century described "elk" as a deer, "as large as a horse". Confusingly, the word "elk" is used in North America to refer to a different animal, Cervus canadensis, called by the Algonquian indigenous name, "wapiti"; the British began colonizing America in the 17th century, found two common species of deer for which they had no names. The wapiti appeared similar to the red deer of Europe although it was much larger and was not red; the moose was a rather strange-looking deer to the colonists, they adopted local names for both. In the early days of American colonization, the wapiti was called a grey moose and the moose was called a black moose, but early accounts of the animals varied wildly, adding to the confusion; the wapiti is superficially similar to the red deer of central and western Europe, although it is distinctly different behaviorally and genetically. Early European explorers in North America in Virginia where there were no moose, called the wapiti "elk" because of its size and resemblance to familiar-looking deer like the red deer.
The moose resembled the "German elk", less familiar to the British colonists. For a long time neither species were called a variety of things. In North America the wapiti became known as an elk while the moose retained its Anglicized Native-American name. In 1736, Samuel Dale wrote to the Royal Society of Great Britain: The common light-grey moose, called by the Indians and the large or black-moose, the beast whose horns I herewith present; as to the grey moose, I take it to be no larger than what Mr. John Clayton, in his account of the Virginia Quadrupeds, calls the Elke... was in all respects like those of our red-deer or stags, only larger... The black moose is accounted a large creature.... The stag, buck, or male of this kind has a palmed horn, not like that of our common or fallow-deer, but the palm is much longer, more like that of the German elke. Moose require habitat with adequate edible plants, cover from predators, protection from hot or cold weather. Moose travel among different habitats with the seasons to address these requirements.
Moose are cold-adapted mammals with thickened skin, heat-retaining coat, a low surface:volume ratio, which provides excellent cold tolerance but poor heat tolerance. Moose survive hot weather by immersion in cool water. In hot weather, moose are found wading or swimming in lakes or ponds; when heat-stressed, moose may fail to adequately forage in summer and may not gain adequate body fat to survive the winter. Also
Domestic sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals kept as livestock. Like most ruminants, sheep are members of the even-toed ungulates. Although the name sheep applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are the most numerous species of sheep. An adult female sheep is referred to as a ewe, an intact male as a ram or a tup, a castrated male as a wether, a younger sheep as a lamb. Sheep are most descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for fleeces and milk. A sheep's wool is the most used animal fiber, is harvested by shearing. Ovine meat is called lamb when from younger animals and mutton when from older ones in Commonwealth countries, lamb in the United States. Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, are occasionally raised for pelts, as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.
Sheep husbandry is practised throughout the majority of the inhabited world, has been fundamental to many civilizations. In the modern era, New Zealand, the southern and central South American nations, the British Isles are most associated with sheep production. Sheepraising has a large lexicon of unique terms which vary by region and dialect. Use of the word sheep began in Middle English as a derivation of the Old English word scēap. A group of sheep is called a herd or mob. Many other specific terms for the various life stages of sheep exist related to lambing and age. Being a key animal in the history of farming, sheep have a entrenched place in human culture, find representation in much modern language and symbology; as livestock, sheep are most associated with pastoral, Arcadian imagery. Sheep figure in many mythologies—such as the Golden Fleece—and major religions the Abrahamic traditions. In both ancient and modern religious ritual, sheep are used as sacrificial animals; the exact line of descent between domestic sheep and their wild ancestors is unclear.
The most common hypothesis states. Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated by humankind. C in Mesopotamia; the rearing of sheep for secondary products, the resulting breed development, began in either southwest Asia or western Europe. Sheep were kept for meat and skins. Archaeological evidence from statuary found at sites in Iran suggests that selection for woolly sheep may have begun around 6000 BC, the earliest woven wool garments have been dated to two to three thousand years later. Sheep husbandry spread in Europe. Excavations show that in about 6000 BC, during the Neolithic period of prehistory, the Castelnovien people, living around Châteauneuf-les-Martigues near present-day Marseille in the south of France, were among the first in Europe to keep domestic sheep. From its inception, ancient Greek civilization relied on sheep as primary livestock, were said to name individual animals. Ancient Romans kept sheep on a wide scale, were an important agent in the spread of sheep raising.
Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, speaks at length about wool. European colonists spread the practice to the New World from 1493 onwards. Domestic sheep are small ruminants with a crimped hair called wool and with horns forming a lateral spiral. Domestic sheep differ from their wild relatives and ancestors in several respects, having become uniquely neotenic as a result of selective breeding by humans. A few primitive breeds of sheep retain some of the characteristics of their wild cousins, such as short tails. Depending on breed, domestic sheep may have no horns at all, or horns in both sexes, or in males only. Most horned breeds have a single pair. Another trait unique to domestic sheep as compared to wild ovines is their wide variation in color. Wild sheep are variations of brown hues, variation within species is limited. Colors of domestic sheep range from pure white to dark chocolate brown, spotted or piebald. Selection for dyeable white fleeces began early in sheep domestication, as white wool is a dominant trait it spread quickly.
However, colored sheep do appear in many modern breeds, may appear as a recessive trait in white flocks. While white wool is desirable for large commercial markets, there is a niche market for colored fleeces for handspinning; the nature of the fleece varies among the breeds, from dense and crimped, to long and hairlike. There is variation of wool type and quality among members of the same flock, so wool classing is a step in the commercial processing of the fibre. Depending on breed, sheep show a range of weights, their rate of growth and mature weight is a heritable trait, selected for in breeding. Ewes weigh between 45 and 100 kilograms, rams between 45 and 160 kilograms; when all deciduous teeth have erupted, the sheep has 20 teeth. Mature sheep have 32 teeth; as with other ruminants, the front teeth in the lower jaw bite against a hard, toothless pad in the upper jaw. These are used to pick off vegetation the rear