Sheep and Goats: Cousins not Twins

Sheep and Goats as Cousins
Sheep are most closely related to goats. Both sheep and goats make up a subfamily called Caprini. The subfamily Caprini is believed to have evolved approximately ten to twenty million years ago in the mountains of central Asia. From there, they both migrated to other places, and humans contributed to their relocation as well.

    Goat--Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons  Sheep--Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sheep versus Goats
If you simply glance at a sheep and a goat together, you may believe that they look strikingly similar. However, there are key features that distinguish sheep apart from goats. The following are the main differences between sheep and goats:

         Sheep don't have beards like goats do.

         The bodies of sheep are usually squatter than the bodies of goats.

         While goat tails stand erect, sheep tails hang down and dangle.

         The horns of sheep usually grow outward in spirals from the sides of their
         heads, and the horns of goats grow outward from the tops of their heads.

         Sheep also possess scent glands that goats don’t have. These scent glands
         are located in the inner corners of their eyes and in-between their toes.

         Naturally, sheep tend to herd together. Goats tend to be more independent
         and flock together to a lesser degree.

         Sheep are grazers and eat a lot of food that is already close to the ground.
         Goats are browsers and eat foods that are higher off the ground like from
         low hanging trees and shrubs.


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