Mouflons and urials are two groups of old world wild sheep in the genus Ovis. Compared with other sheep, they have much in common: For example they are both smaller than Argalis and according to craniometric (skull) analyses both groups have also more similarities compared to Argalis or Snow Sheep. But what are the differences now?
Distribution: Mouflons are a more westerly group of species, occurring on some Mediterranean islands (from where they were introduced to mainland Europe), in Turkey and Iran. Urials are more easterly species, occurring between Iran and India. Accordingly there is a hybridisation zone in the north of Iran.
One main difference is the number of chromosomes: According to Valdez (1982) Mouflons have 54, Urials have 58.
Damm and Franco (2014) state that urials are „generally somewhat larger than mouflons.“ According to these authors the „most distinctive pelage feature of the urial group is the prominent bib combined with a luxurious ruff in the males‘ winter pelage“. Mouflons on the other hand are „bibless“ (Valdez, (1982) – german: latzlos :-). Saddle patches in urials, if present, are more variable than in mouflons.
Groves and Grubb (2011) compared sculls of Mouflon (Ovis gmelini) and Urial (Ovis vignei) and found that urials have a longer frontal arc compared with the frontal chord (which should result in a more flared skull between the nose bridge (nasion) and near the topmost part of the head (bregma). Urials also have „a higher and somewhat narrower and shorter skull.“
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