The distribution and prevalence of mandibular osteomyelitis, lumpy jaw, and other dental anomalies in wild sheep were investigated and their biological and evolutionary implications were assessed. Our survey was based on 3,363 mandibles of wild sheep and 1,028 from domesticated varieties. Lumpy jaw is widespread in wild sheep of North America, but it is rare or absent in wild sheep from Eurasia. Among the subspecies of Ovis spp. in North American, the thinhorn sheep (Ovis dalli) were the most seriously impacted, with a prevalence in Dall's sheep (O. dalli dalli) of 23.3% and 29.3% in Stone's sheep (O. dalli stonei). Among the bighorns (O. canadensis), the Rocky Mountain subspecies (O. canadensis canadensis) had a higher rate (12.1%) than other subspecies. Lumpy jaw was not documented in the desert sheep of Baja California (O. canadensis cremnobates, O. canadensis weemsii). Based on data from affected thinhorn sheep, it appears there is an inverse relationship between age of a subspecies in a long term evolutionary context and susceptibility to lumpy jaw. In Eurasian wild sheep lumpy jaw is rare or absent with prevalences ranging from 0 to 7.1% among suspecies, and in domesticated breeds the prevalence averaged 5.0%. The impact of lumpy jaw on different age classes or longevity is equivocal, although females are more susceptible than males. Lumpy jaw appears to effect horn development in males.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1