Home Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History Home
Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Oreamnos americanus

Common Name:
Mountain Goat


Above Lemhi River, Idaho   August 24, 1805

White buffalo

Lewis and Clark had scarce chance to encounter mountain goats as these animals were living in high mountains within the northern Rockies, and frequently near glaciers.  There is one recorded sighting by Clark from a great distance, otherwise their knowledge of these rock goats came from Indians, and especially from a skin Lewis purchased while on the Columbia River.

In his travels across North America, Alexander McKenzie describes, in 1789, white buffalo inhabiting the McKenzie River region and restricted to the mountains of the Northwest.  McKenzie'a white buffalo were most likely mountain goats.  White, or albino bison do exist, although they are very rare individuals.

Lewis and Clark used the term mountain sheep for the mountain goat, referring to the bighorn sheep they saw as bighorn anamals, or just bighorns.  More confusing to the journal reader is their use of goat for the pronghorn.

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

Journal Entries:

One of the animals that was quite new to the explorers was the elusive mountain goat.
Capt. Lewis, August 24, 1805--The few ...  more>>

References de Blainville, Henri-Marie Ducrotay, Bulletin des Sciences de la Société de Philomathique, 80., , 1816

see following caption

See following caption
mountain goat

See following caption
mountain goat

Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice