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Tian Shan Argali - Species Detail
||Hume (Kashgarian) argali, Karelin (Alatau) argali, Heins argali, Littledale (Kulja) argali, Sair argali, Kazakhstan (Semipalatinsk, Karaganda) argali
Ovis ammon karelini
Argali del Tian Shan (Sp), Tian Shan Argali (G), Argali du Tian Shan (F). Also spelled Tien Shan. Named after Russian biologist G. S. Kareline.
DESCRIPTION & TAXONOMIC NOTES As we now provide separate listings for the Kuruktag, Littledale, Sair, and Karaganda argalis, our Tian Shan argali category is reduced to two races, both of which were once considered valid subspecies. They are: heinsii and karelini, with karelini Severtzov, 1873 having priority.
The Heins argali (heinsii) was described from the Tokmak district northwest of Lake Issyk Kul in northern Kyrgyzstan. It has lighter horns with a wide, open flare, and may prove to be a connecting link with the smaller Kara Tau argali to the west. It should be noted that a number of authorities treat heinsii as a form of Marco Polo argali (O. a. polii) rather than a form of Tian Shan argali (O. a. karelini).
The Kareline or Ala Tau argali (karelini) was described from the Ala Tau range north of Lake Issyk Kul in northeastern Kyrgyzstan and southeastern Kazakhstan, and eastward in the Tian Shan range in Xinjiang, China. It is also said to be similar to the Marco Polo, but its horns have a tighter curl and are generally thicker. The winter coat was described by Severtzov as having light brown upper parts that lighten gradually to the diffuse, grayish-brown rump patch. The yellowish-white belly is separated from the flanks by a wide dark line. A dark dorsal line runs from shoulders to loins. Neck mane is white, shaded with grayish-brown. The record head was reported as picked up (1921) in the valley of the Yuldaz, a small stream flowing northward into the Ili River in Kyrgyzstan. Its longest horn measured 70-3/4 x 15-1/2 inches (179.7 x 39.4 cm), which is much larger than any other karelini of record. In 1925, Kermit Roosevelt took a remarkable specimen with a longest horn of 61 x 17 inches (154.9 x 43.2 cm), and noted that there were great differences in coloration among individual sheep. His ram was taken in the drainage of the Tekes River close to where it joins the Künes River in Xinjiang.
DISTRIBUTION The Tian Shan range, from southeastern Kazakhstan and eastern Kyrgyzstan eastward to about Urumqi in Xinjiang. Boundaries with the Marco Polo argali to the south and west are unclear.
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