Book of Mormon/Animals/Sheep

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Sheep in the Book of Mormon

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Miller and Roper: "there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [1]

Sheep were probably among the animals brought to America by the Jaredites, although they were not stated explicitly by name (Ether 6:4). They most likely are to be included in the term “flocks,” and are mentioned by name in Ether ( 9:18) several generations later. Sheep have been useful to man for many centuries and were probably man’s first domesticated animal [2] (along with the dog). They are useful for both food and clothing. In addition to Old World sheep, apparently brought to the New World by the Jaredites, there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis. Their current geographic range extends south only to northern Mexico. However, their past range was more extensive, as was their habitat before human settlements expanded. [3] They are an animal that can be tamed or at least semi-domesticated. According to Geist , “It is hard to imagine a wild animal more readily tamed than mountain sheep.” [4] Sorenson noted the apparent recovery of sheep wool from a pre-Columbian burial site near Puebla (southeast of Mexico City). [5] Petroglyphs from Mexico and the southwestern United States show many prehistoric depictions of sheep. It appears certain that the association of sheep and man occurred in America before this animal was brought over beginning in 1493 with Columbus’ second voyage.

Wikipedia: Bighorn sheep "crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge"

Bighorn sheep were native to North America at the time the the Jaredites arrived. The following is from Wikipedia:

The bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)[6] is a species of sheep in North America [7] named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to 30 lb (14 kg), while the sheep themselves weigh up to 300 lb (140 kg). [8] Recent genetic testing indicates three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: O. c. sierrae. Sheep originally crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge from Siberia: the population in North America peaked in the millions, and the bighorn sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americans. [9]

Interpreter Foundation Blog, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper,  Interpreter Foundation Blog, (21 April 2014)
Contemplating which animals the Jaredites brought with them from the Old World, and which ones they found living in America, presents some complex problems. Sheep, goats, swine, and even cattle, horses and asses could all have conceivably been brought with them in the barges. Conversely, all these types of animals could have been found by the Jaredites upon their arrival in America. The term “flocks” used in Ether (6:4) probably referred to sheep and/or goats. Flocks could also refer to types of birds like geese. However, the latter seems less likely. “Flocks” as used in the Old Testament does not include birds as it does now. The term “herds” probably included just cattle. While this term could mean horses and asses, it doesn’t seem to fit with Old Testament usage. In addition to “flocks” and “herds,” the statement is made, “… and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them–. “ Again, it’s not known specifically what these animals were. Swine was probably one of these animals as they are named (Ether, 9:18) and could have been brought over with them. Although we don’t know what the ranges of sizes and numbers were for the animals involved, the mention of “herds” connotes something about this. If cattle, horses and asses are included in the term, what numbers could be carried? There would have had to be enough to insure that breeding populations could be established and maintained once in the Promised Land. This certainly would mean more than one male and female of each species. A few of each sex would have been wise. Concerning the larger animal species, probably younger individuals were chosen in order to conserve limited space. In having younger individuals, it would require less food for them. With the above factors in mind, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, asses and horses could all have conceivably been brought over on the barges. While very unlikely, it might have been possible to even bring over very young elephants. Their size and food requirements are what make this so unlikely. The cow, ox, ass, horse, goat and wild goat were all animals that the Lehites found in America when they arrived (1 Nephi 18:25). Whether any of these animals were descendants of those known to the Jaredites is unknown.

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See FairMormon Evidence:
More evidence of sheep in the Book of Mormon


  1. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  2. C. Radulesco and P. Samson, Sur un centre de domestication du mouton dans le Mesolithique de grotte “La Adam, en Dobrogea,” Tierzüchlung und Züchtungsbiologic 76 (1962), 282-320.
  3. E. Raymond Hall and Keith R. Kelson, The Mammals of North America,” (New York, Ronald Press, 1959).1
  4. Valerius Geist, “Mountain Sheep: A Study in Behavior and Evolution,” (Chicago and London: University of Chicago press, 1971), 41.
  5. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1985), 296-97.
  6. "Ovis canadensis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 March 2006.
  7. Grubb, P. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. off-site
  8. "Bighorn Sheep". Ultimate Ungulate page. off-site
  9. "Bighorn sheep," Wikipedia (accessed 18 August 2014)