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The argali (Ovis ammon), also known as the mountain sheep, is a wild sheep that roams the highlands of western East Asia, the Himalayas, Tibet, and the Altai Mountains.

Description

The name 'argali' is the Mongolian word for wild sheep.[2] It is the largest species of wild sheep. Argali stand 85 to 135 cm (3 to 4 ft) high at the shoulder and measure 136 to 200 cm (4 to 7 ft) long from the head to the base of the tail. The female, or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100&

Capra ammon Linnaeus, 1758

The argali (Ovis ammon), also known as the mountain sheep, is a wild sheep that roams the highlands of western East Asia, the Himalayas, Tibet, and the Altai Mountains.

Description

The name 'argali' is the Mongolian word for wild sheep.[2] It is the largest species of wild sheep. Argali stand 85 to 135 cm (3 to 4 ft) high at the shoulder and measure 136 to 200 cm (4 to 7 ft) long from the head to the base of the tail. The female, or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100 kg (95 to 220 lb) and the rams typically from 97 to 328 kg (214 to 723 lb), with a maximum reported mass of 356 kg (785 lb). The Pamir argali (also called Marco Polo sheep, for they were first described by that traveler), O. a. polii, is the largest race on average, regularly measuring more than 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) long without the tail, and is less sexually dimorphic in body mass than most other subspecies. The argali has relatively the shortest tail of any wild goat-antelope or sheep, with reported tail lengths of 9.5–17 cm (3.7–6.7 in).

The general coloration varies between each animal, from a light yellow to a reddish-brown to a dark grey-brown. Argali or nyan from the Himalayas are usually relatively dark, whereas those from Russian ranges are often relatively pale

The argali (Ovis ammon), also known as the mountain sheep, is a wild sheep that roams the highlands of western East Asia, the Himalayas, Tibet, and the Altai Mountains.

The name 'argali' is the Mongolian word for wild sheep.[2] It is the largest species of wild sheep. Argali stand 85 to 135 cm (3 to 4 ft) high at the shoulder and measure 136 to 200 cm (4 to 7 ft) long from the head to the base of the tail. The female, or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100 kg (95 to 220 lb) and the rams typically from 97 to 328 kg (214 to 723 lb), with a maximum reported mass of 356 kg (785 lb). The Pamir argali (also called Marco Polo sheep, for they were first described by that traveler), O. a. polii, is the largest race on average, regularly measuring more than 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) long without the tail, and is less sexually dimorphic in body mass than most other subspecies. The argali has relatively the shortest tail of any wild goat-antelope or sheep, with reported tail lengths of 9.5–17 cm (3.7–6.7 in).

The general coloration varies between each animal, from a light yellow to a reddish-brown to a dark grey-brown. Argali or nyan from the Himalayas are usually relatively dark, whereas those from Russian ranges are often relatively pale. In summertime, the coat is often lightly spotted with a salt-and-pepper pattern. The back is darker than the sides, which gradually lighten in color. The face, tail and the buttocks are yellowish-white. The male has a whitish neck ruff and a dorsal crest and is usually slightly darker in color than the female. Males have two large corkscrew shaped horns, some measuring 190 cm (6 ft 3 in) in total length and weighing up to 23 kg (51 lb). Males use their horns for competing with one another. Females also carry horns, but they are much smaller, usually measuring less than 60 cm (24 in) in total length.

The general coloration varies between each animal, from a light yellow to a reddish-brown to a dark grey-brown. Argali or nyan from the Himalayas are usually relatively dark, whereas those from Russian ranges are often relatively pale. In summertime, the coat is often lightly spotted with a salt-and-pepper pattern. The back is darker than the sides, which gradually lighten in color. The face, tail and the buttocks are yellowish-white. The male has a whitish neck ruff and a dorsal crest and is usually slightly darker in color than the female. Males have two large corkscrew shaped horns, some measuring 190 cm (6 ft 3 in) in total length and weighing up to 23 kg (51 lb). Males use their horns for competing with one another. Females also carry horns, but they are much smaller, usually measuring less than 60 cm (24 in) in total length.

Subspecies and classification

Currently, 9 subspecies of argali are recognized:[3]

  • Altai argali, O. a. ammon
  • Karaganda argali, O. a. collium
  • Gobi argali, O. a. darwini
  • Tibetan argali, O. a. hodgsoni
  • North China argali, O. a. jubata
  • Tian Shan argali, O. a. karelini
  • Kara Tau argali, O. a. nigrimontana
  • [3]

    • Altai argali, O. a. ammon
    • Karaganda argali, O. a. collium
    • Gobi argali, O. a. darwini
    • Tibetan argali, O. a. hodgsoni
    • North China argali, O. a. jubata
    • Tian Shan argali, O.

      Some sources classify mouflon as Ovis ammon musimon, but DNA testing has not supported this. Several subspecies of argali have been genetically tested for mtDNA and one study found the subspecies O. a. ammon, O. a. darwini and the urial subspecies, O. vignei bochariensis grouped closely, while the subspecies O. a. collium and O. a. nigrimontana grouped with the urial subspecies O. vignei arkal.[4]

      Range and habitat

      Argali range from central Kazakhstan in the west to the Shanxi Province in China in the east and from the Kazakhstan in the west to the Shanxi Province in China in the east and from the Altai Mountains in the north to the Himalayas to the south. They are a species of mountainous areas, living from elevations of 300 to 5,800 m (980 to 19,030 ft). In protected areas, the species generally prefers gently sloping areas with soft broken terrain, although ewes with lambs often take up residence in more precipitous areas, characterized by canyons and jagged rocks. In areas where they are extensively hunted (such as Kazakhstan), they are more likely to be found in forested areas. In parts of China and Russia where they compete for resources with numerous domestic stock, argali more regularly take up residence in precipitous, jagged areas. Argali may search for regions in the mountains where snow cover is not heavy during the winter, following winds that blow snow off the earth. Rams are generally found at higher elevations more regularly than females and stay at higher elevations longer during the winter.[3]

      Life history