Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ancient Sheep Poop Reveals Desert Island's Secret Past

By Megan Gannon, News Editor | March 21, 2014 02:31pm ET

On the floor of a cave in a remote desert island in Mexico, scientists stumbled across a mat of urine-hardened poop, dating back to more than 1,500 years ago. The fossilized dung offers surprising evidence that bighorn sheep once lived on the uninhabited island, a new study claims.

Around 500 bighorn sheep can be found on Tiburón Island in the Gulf of California today — but that population descends from a group of animals brought there by conservationists in 1975.

Starting with 16 females and 4 males, conservationists established a population of bighorn sheep to bolster the species' numbers on the mainland. Tiburón Island was chosen because it had little huntingand few human disturbances. It also lacked big predators like mountain lion and disease-transmitting animals like domestic sheep.

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