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Original file size9.19 MB
Image typeJPEG
Big Horn Sheep in Jasper National Park

Big Horn Sheep in Jasper National Park

Ovis canadensis is one of three species of mountain sheep in North America and Siberia; the other two species being Ovis dalli, which includes Dall sheep and Stone's sheep, and the Siberian snow sheep Ovis nivicola. Wild sheep crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia during the Pleistocene (about 750,000 years ago) and subsequently spread through western North America as far south as Baja California and northwestern mainland Mexico. Divergence from their closest Asian ancestor (snow sheep) occurred about 600,000 years ago. In North America, wild sheep have diverged into two extant species—Dall sheep, which occupy Alaska and northwestern Canada, and bighorn sheep, which range from southern Canada to Mexico.