The Scoop on Sheep

Origin of Words:

        “aries” Latin for lambDictionary from Microsoft Clipart

     “sheep” from Old English “sceap” related to  German “shaf” and Dutch “schaap”

     “lamb” Middle English from Old English, related to German “lamm” and Dutch “lam”

     “wool” from Middle English “wolle” from Old English “wull” from prehistoric German “wullo” from Indo European “wina”

     “ewe” from Old English “eoww”

     “ram” from Old English “ramm” related to German “ramme” and Old Norse “ramr” meaning strong


         Sheep are good for research because unlike rodents, a sheep's body weight and size closely compares to a human’s bodyStuffed Dolly Replica--Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons weight and size.

         The docile nature of sheep also makes them easier to experiment with.

         The United States makes use of about 24,000 sheep per year for research.

         Many sheep are used in heart valve, kidney, orthopedic, and newborn surgery research.

         As we all have heard, Dolly was the first cloned sheep and helped make huge advancements in stem cell research. 

References of Sheep in Past:

         Egyptian gods Ammon-Ra, who represented power and fertility, Osiris, Qeb, and Shu were all depicted as having some form of a ram. Rams were an important sacrificial animal, and oftentimes, they were mummified and left within tombs to go on to the afterlife.

         Ancient Greeks and Romans would often use lambs and rams as sacrificial animals.

         Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac, and it even has its own constellation.  

         In Greek Mythology, a winged ram rescued the grandson and granddaughter of Wind from their evil stepmother. However, the granddaughter died in the process so only the grandson survived. The grandson sacrificed a ram to the gods and hung its golden fleece in a tree.

         Sheep knucklebones were used to play a game similar to Jacks in the classical times.

         Sheep are referenced more than any other animal in the Bible.

         There are many references to sheep in the Jewish faith. Abraham sacrificed a ram instead of his son Isaac. The strings in Kind David’s harp, the hide in Elijah’s belt, the horn trumpet of Moses, and Elijah’s horn trumpet all came from sheep parts. Also, the blood of sheep was used to protect homes of the Jewish people in the First Passover.

         In the New Testament, the lamb is the symbol of Christ.

Egyptian Pictures from Microsoft Clipart      Aries from Microsoft Clipart           Sheep in Religion from Microsoft Clipart


        You’ve heard of bull riding before, but have you ever heard of mutton busting? Mutton busting is an event similar to bull riding for young kids where the goal is to stay on the sheep for at least six seconds!

        During President Woodrow Wilson’s term in office, sheep were allowed to graze on the White House lawn. The sheep’s wool was used to fundraise money for the Red Cross during World War I.

Sheep on White House Lawn--Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons     

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