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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Ovis canadensis
Original name is Ovis canadensis Shaw, 1804.

Common Name:
Bighorn Sheep


Yellowstone at Missouri, North Dakota   April 26, 1805

Rocky mountaineers

In Lewis' home state, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the only native, hooved mammal is the white-tailed deer.  Along the Missouri and Columbia rivers, the Corps saw a number of large, hooved mammals that were new to them, bison, pronghorn, mule deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep.  Each new, large mammal must have been thrilling to discover.  Standing among this impressive group is the bighorn sheep, an animal known to hang out in remote and inaccessible areas alongside rocky crags and cliffs where puma and bear could not reach them.

Lewis and Clark wrote wonderfully detailed and lengthy descriptions on the bighorn, suggesting a certain fascination with the animal.  They thought their horns could make fine combs. 

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

The explorers heard about the bighorn sheep long before any of them ever saw one.
Capt. Clark, October 1, 1804 -- This ...  more>>

References Shaw, George and Frederick Polydor Nodder, The naturalists' miscellany: or Coloured figures of natural objects; drawn and described immediately from nature. 24 vols., 1789-1813, Printed for Nodder & Co., London,

See following caption
Clark's journal sketch of the bighorn sheep. Inset is approximate size of the original sketch.

See following caption
bighorn sheep

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