Sheep (Ovis aries)


Adult Sheep


Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Ovis
Species: O.aries

Dental Formula: I=3/3 C=1/1 P=3/3 M=3/3


Maximum length: 265mm
Maximum width: 130.5mm
Nasal length: 104mm
Palate length: 138.3mm

Further Information

Reference number: 02.039
Date collected: 20th July 2002
Area located: Colne, Lancashire, UK

More on sheep

Identifying the sex of a sheep by its skull is not as easy as many people believe. The world is full of people who have been brought up under the false belief that male sheep (rams/tups) have horns and female sheep (ewes) don't. There are many breeds of sheep in the UK alone. There are many breeds where only the males have horns, but there also some breeds of sheep where both the male and the female have horns- the Scottish Black Face, the Swaledale and the Dalesbred are just three breeds that I can name off the top of my head where both the rams and the ewes carry a head of horns. Just because a sheep skull has horns, it doesn't make it a ram. I see it all the time on ebay- sheep skulls with horns offered as rams. Many of these so called ram skulls are sold by people who are deluded into thinking that a sheep skull with horns is a male. If you desperately want a male sheep in your collection and you plan to buy one, make sure you ask the seller how they know that the sheep skull they are selling is from a male, if the seller tells you "because it has horns" take your business elsewhere.

horned ewe

Adult Female Horned Breed
(probably Swaledale or Dalesbred)

Sheep are gregarious animals, in fact they remind me of fleas. If you see one on it's own you can guarentee there will be a several others somewhere around. In the world of farming you can guarentee that the entire flock of sheep will be made up entirely of adult females (except in spring when there will be lambs). There might be one adult male sheep to an entire flock so the chances of finding a ram skull is unlikely (though not impossible). Should you happen to find a sheep skull with horns, before assuming it is a ram skull, take a look around the place you found the skull. Look at the living sheep in the same area, does the rest of the flock have horns? If it does you are probably standing in a field full of horned ewes, and the horned skull you have found is also from a ewe.

Lamb Skull
Sheep Skull Measurements

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