Did You Know?
Sheep belong to the same family of mammals as goats, antelope, bison, buffalo, and cows. The genus Ovis includes at least five species, including the domestic sheep. Some 12,000 years ago, in the area now known as Iraq, sheep became one of the first animals to be domesticated; only the dog is known to have been tamed earlier. At first, they were valued for their milk, skin, and meat (mutton and lamb); not until about 1500 B.C. did the weaving of wool begin. Today a billion sheep are being farmed worldwide. The term ovine (which is a noun as well as an adjective) is mostly used in scientific and medical writing—which means you could impress your friends by dropping it into a casual conversation.
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