Sheep/Mule Deer Hybrids

Ovis aries × Odocoileus hemionus

Mammalian Hybrids



Mule Deer Mule Deer

Domestic Sheep Domestic Sheep

Chromosome counts:

Ovis aries: 2n=54

Odocoileus hemionus: 2n=70

An ongoing search for information about mammalian hybrids has thus far revealed only a single old newspaper report mentioning this particular cross (Ovis aries × Odocoileus hemionus). That this report has not been corroborated from other sources — and that it was published on April 1 — suggest that it should be taken cum grano salis even though the content of the article seems to smack of authenticity (and especially given the disparity of the cross). However, although this exact type of cross does not seem to have been reported elsewhere, some rather similar crosses have. For example: roe deer × sheep, reindeer × cow and red deer × cow.

At any rate, the following is a transcript of the article as it appeared of the April 1, 1918 issue (page 7, column 4) of The Ogden Standard, a newspaper in published in Ogden City, Utah (Access source):


In a letter received this morning at the local headquarters of the forest service from Supervisor W. W. Blakeslee of the Toiyabe Forest near Austin, Nevada, there is a report of a freak of nature concerning the crossing of wild and tame animals of the same general species.

The report states the crossing of sheep and wild deer has become an established fact. It discloses that seven ewes recently gave birth to lambs that showed plainly the deer cross. A the forest office it was said by an attache when the report was first circulated its correctness was seriously doubted.

Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of mammalian hybrids to include all serious allegations by serious individuals, especially 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 eliminate at least one source of systematic bias from my work.

Investigation, however, proved that the thing actually happened. The herder, who was with the sheep, stated that a buck deer ran with the band for a period of six days in wall canyon. Of the number to which the ewes gave birth, three have died, but the remaining four are strong, vigorous and doing well.

The freaks have the deer marks and characteristics. They jump like deer with their long, light legs. Their hair is not woolly, nor does it greatly resemble that of a deer. Their ears, however, are straight up like those of a deer and not like those of a sheep. Great interest will be attached to these animals as they grow older.

An additional anecdotal account, of different case, can be read here. An old report about a very similar cross, Black-tailed Deer × Sheep, appeared on page 2 of the July 23, 1910 issue of Goodwin's Weekly a newspaper published in Salt Lake City, Nevada (Access source)

More about sheep-deer hybrids >>

dog-cow hybrid A dog-cow hybrid?

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Biology Dictionary >>

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

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