ARGALI

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ARGALI (ovis amnion); mountain, or wild sheep. This animal is regarded with propriety as the savage stock whence the endless varieties of domestic sheep are descended; though it is difficult, from an inspection of the A., to conceive how so wild and energetic an animal could, by any management, be converted into the imbecile and helpless creatures of which our flocks are composed.In size, the A. equals the common deer, and in port and bearing resembles the wild goat, though his huge, laterallytwisted horns give his head a very marked similarity to that of the common ram. These horns are very large, arise near the eyes, curve first backwards and then forwards, and have the points directed forwards and outwards; from their base, they are transversely waved or wrinkled for half their length, the remainder being nearly smooth. The horns of the female are more like those of the common goat, rising directly upwards, and curving gently backwards, especially towards the extremity. In summer, the A. is covered with harsh and rather short hair, generally of a grayishyellow, having a blackish or reddish stripe along the back, and a large spot of the same color on the rump. The inferior parts of the body, and inside of the thighs, are of a pale reddishwhite; in winter, the color is a deeper red, with a greater whiteness about the muzzle, throat and belly.The mountain sheep is found in considerable numbers on the elevated ranges of northern Asia, in the deserts or steppes of Siberia, the mountains of California, and the Rocky mountain range of America. They live in herds or families, consisting of a male with the females and young, and seek their food on the lofty elevations, covered only with lichens or small shrubs. They are shy and fearful, and, when disturbed, retreat with a swiftness and agility which renders pursuit hopeless, as they bound from rock to rock with security, and are soon lost to sight. It is by stealing upon them against the wind, or lying in ambush near where they must pass, that the hunter is enabled to make them his prey. In the spring of the year, when under the influence of sexual excitement, the males acquire a warlike disposition, which induces severe and obstinate combats for the possession ofthe females.The A. was first satisfactorily made known as an inhabitant of America by the expedition of Lewis and Clarke, who brought the skins of a male and female from the Rocky mountains, which are still preserved in the Philadelphia museum. The A. had been previously indicated as an inhabitant of California by Veregas. The species is called bighorn by the Indians .and traders. The [ndians make various aomestic utensils of these large horns, and apply their skins to the same purpose as those of the deer. The domestication of the sheep is coeval with the infancy of the human family; and it is not, therefore, surprising, that the domesticated breeds should differ so materially from the parent stock, when we know what can be accomplished by crossbreeding, even during the life of a single man. When domesticated softfleeced sheep are taken to warm climates, this fleece is speedily shed, as we have repeatedly witnessed, and a coarse, reddish hair takes its place. In this condition, the resemblance of the animal to the A. becomes very striking.