Sheep × Hare

Hybrids Out of History

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
A man bought a sheep and went home with it. A hare saw him and thought, "What a good sheep that is! I must have it for myself."
—How Did the Hare Get the Sheep?
(An African folktale)
Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of hybrids to include all serious allegations, especially those of scholars, whether or not the hybrid alleged seems possible or likely to me. This policy, I think, helps to eliminate subjective judgment on my part, and therefore should remove at least one source of systematic bias from my work. It also helps to fulfill the ethical obligation of telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.
Location of Lappion
Location of Lappion

An old report, published in the March 1727 issue of the French periodical Suite de la Clef, ou Journal historique sur les matières du temps (pp. 229-230), describes a conjoined twin that was allegedly the hybrid of a hare and a sheep. It reads as follows: “M. Chanvalon, residing in Lappion, in the Diocese of Laon, two leagues from Notre Dame de Liesse, writes me to say

reality thermometer
Reality Thermometer (estimated reliability of this cross).
that in mid-January, a ewe in that village yeaned a stillborn monster having the bodies of two lambs conjoined, one male and one female. But there was only a single head, which was that of a hare. The nose, the whiskers, teeth and eyes could not be mistaken. The ears, too, were like a hare's, but there were three, two in the ordinary positions, and a third in the middle atop the head. The head and neck held the shoulders of the two bodies, with their four forelegs, together. The bodies were separate, with each having its own belly, tail, two hind-legs and the rest. And all these parts were of a proper size and proportion. The neck and shoulders, as well as all of the back as far as the tail, were covered with the fur of a hare, but the eight legs, two tails and the lower portion of the body of this double animal were covered in wool. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original French.]

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By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).


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