Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Wanted: ugly sheep 全力通緝:醜綿羊

Sheep graze on a farm in western Australia.
澳洲西部一處農場裡放牧的綿羊。 (照片:法新社)


Australian scientists have begun a search for the country's ugliest sheep. They want to find the most wrinkled, lumpy, bald or funny-looking sheep to try to find out which genes produce high-quality wool.

By doing tests on an ugly sheep, scientists can find out which of its genes are damaged, causing it to be ugly. Then, they can use this information to find out which genes make a sheep have really good wool.

Australia's wool industry is worth about 2.8 billion Australian dollars (NT$67.63 billion) each year. Scientists hope to use the information they find from the study to produce higher-quality wool to compete with increasingly popular synthetic materials.

``It's the ugly sheep that will help us ... make (Australian wool) more stretchy, less scratchy, shinier and easier to spin,'' said Paul Hynd, one of the researchers in the study.

These ugly sheep -- the ones born with rough, uneven or extra-curly wool, bald patches, or even very wrinkled skin -- are usually killed after they are born instead of being used for their wool. Now scientists are asking farmers to donate their unusual sheep or wool clippings to the study.

``These lambs, typically viewed as worthless, are in fact highly valuable to the industry because one of the most efficient ways to identify the genes that impact certain wool traits is to study animals that have rare or extreme features,'' said Hynd. (AP)






Reading Comprehension

1. Really ugly sheep ...

a. don't have any genes.

b. don't have enough genes.

c. have damaged genes.

2. What is the prize for the ugliest sheep?

a. 2.8 billion Australian dollars.

b. Donated wool clippings.

c. The story doesn't say.

3. What is a challenge facing Australia's wool industry?

a. There are more and more ugly sheep born every year.

b. New products made from synthetics are very popular.

c. Scientists can't cure sheep with damaged genes.

4. Ugly sheep are usually ...

a. eaten.

b. killed.

c. donated to research projects.



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