Thousands of years ago, somebody looked at a flock of sheep and went, “well, they aren’t cold.”
It’s so much better than that.
So once upon a time, goats and sheep were essentially the same animal, and all of them had hair. Now, you can do some stuff with hair, but you can’t do a lot, so mostly sheep/goats were kept for meat and milk.
Except then a mutation showed up, and some of the sheep/goats had WOOL instead. And someone realized that 1. you could spin that shit, and 2. then you could WEAVE that shit, and 3. IT GREW BACK.
Generations of selective breeding ensued. Two visibly discrete species emerged, one primarily for meat and milk, and the other primarily for wool. They also have different behavioural characteristics, because independence was not helpful in a sheep, so it was bred out of them. Sheep remain one of the few non-draft animals that we farm even though they are not delicious.
The most similar part of sheep and goats that remains today is their skeleton. On an archaeological dig, you find THOUSANDS of bones and bone fragments that can only be identified as “sheep/goat”. It’s incredibly frustrating, but also kind of hilarious after you’ve spent enough time in the sun.
ANYWAY, human beings have always been smart and surprisingly good at changing nature because they want a sweater.
The entire knitting community needs to hear this.
Oh man I’m so glad I can add this to my arsenal of responses to people who say all GMOs are made of poison.
In zooarchaeology, sheep/goat is a valid category and no one will press you further on the issue.