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Meteorological Register kept at the Surveyor General's Office, Calcutta, for the Month of Augt. 1847.
On the fame Sheep and Goats of the sub-Himisayas and of Tibet. By B. H. Hodgson, Esq.
Zoologists, seeking to deduce the essential characters of species and genera, very properly give an unlimited preference to wild over domesticated animals, as exemplars of their several kinds. But in an occonomical point of view, the world at large as properly feels a higher interest in the tame species, and particularly in those herds and flocks, which contribute so largely to the food and clothing of mankind. England stands pre-eminent in Europe for the attention paid, not only to the breeding, but to the describing, of her domesticated animals, being fully aware that accurate book lore is always apt to be subservient in various unexpected ways to practical utility. It is, therefore, somewhat surprising, that the widely diffused colonists of England, have not imitated the excellent example of their compatriots at home, and that the herds and flocks by which Britons are surrounded in the colonies of the empire, yet remain almost wholly undescribed. . I trust that this reproach to the colonial residents may ere long be wiped away, and that some of the many enlightened and able men, scattered over the Indian continent, from the snows to Cape Comorin, will be induced to favour the public with descriptions of the numerous breeds of large and small horned cattle, that are to be found in the various provinces of this vast country.
I purpose, on the present occasion, to describe the several breeds of tame Sheep and Goats, proper to my own vicinity; and hereafter to give
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a similar account of the large horned cattle or Bovines, that is, the tame Oxen, Buffaloes and Bisons, reared between the Tarai or skirt of the plains of India, and the trans-IIimálayan plains of Tibet. I shall begin with the sheep, and, in order to mark more distinctly the essential characters of each of the two groups to be now reviewed, I shall commence, in regard to each, by setting down those characters in the usual manner of Zoologists. The tame sheep of the world at large have been supposed to retain so few of the original marks of their race, that it has been thought difficult or impossible to point out their wild progenitors. Perhaps a good deal of this difficulty has arisen from the heretofore imperfect examination of the wild races, and from the manner in which the distinctive characters of the whole of them have been lumped together to constitute a single Genus Ovis. In a paper recently presented to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, I have distributed the wild sheep known to me into three genera. And to that paper I beg to refer the curious reader, merely observing on the present occasion, that the sheep proper, typed by the wild Argalis of Siberia and of Tibet, exhibit the whole of the following characters, which are likewise common to all the several breeds of domesticated sheep now to be described, with the single and but very partial exception of ‘horned females, some of the following tame breeds having females, sometimes void of horns. Genus Ovis. Sheep-proper. IIorns in both sexes. No mufle. Eye pits large, but immoveable. Feet pits small in all the four feet. Inguinal glands large, with a copious secretion, but vaguely defined pit or vent. Calcic glands or tufts, mone.* Teats two. No odour in the males. These animals have, for further and subordinate marks, massive angular compressed and heavily wrinkled horns, inserted proximately on the top of the head, and turned sideways almost into a perfect circle,
* For these organs see Journal Asiatic Society, above referred to,