Shepherd Seminar – Fundamentals of Sheep Colors with Dr. Polly Matzinger
Just as a painter can create all sorts of colors and patterns by mixing a small number of basic colors, and then putting them in different places, so it is with sheep. Sheep make three different pigments and then send them into different places on their bodies to make all the various colors and patterns that we see. In this class we will start with a description of the cells that make the pigments, where they sit in the skin, and what kinds of instructions they get from the skin cells around them. We will cover the difference between a sheep’s color and its pattern, and why the color “white” is really not a color but a pattern. We will go into the mutation that created white sheep, and its evolutionary history, showing how white sheep probably occurred more than once in history, in different parts of the world. We will also cover the two different kinds of black sheep and why one of those types can be hidden for generations of white sheep and then suddenly show up as a black lamb.
Dr Matzinger is an immunologist (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polly_Matzinger) and sheep farmer. She teaches basic and advanced immunology, and the genetics and biology of sheep color and breeding.