A ewe that is believed to have been a contender for the title of "oldest living sheep" lives no more. With a name to match her lofty age, Methuselina has fallen off a cliff to her death on the Isle of Lewis and Harris near the coast of Scotland.
An ear tag on the blackface sheep showed that she was just shy of 26 years old. Methuselina's owner, John Maciver, spoke of her life and death with BBC News.
"The sad news is Methuselina is no more," he said. "She passed away and I wouldn't say peacefully. I found her at the bottom of a rock. She had gone over a cliff and met her demise that way at the grand old age of 25 years and 11 months."
Methuselina was never recognized by Guinness World Records, as Maciver did not apply for the recognition during the ewe's lifetime. Guinness had been searching for a contender for the title since the death of Lucky, a Polwarth-Dorchester cross from Australia that died in 2009 at age 23.
According to the record-keeping organization, the oldest age ever recorded for a sheep was 28 years and 51 weeks. That ewe died in Wales in 1989, after giving birth to her 40th lamb just the year before. The average life expectancy of sheep is 10 to 12 years.
As for Methuselina, Maciver attributes her longevity to the lasting health and presence of her teeth, which allowed her to graze easily into her old age. Still, she was always a scrawny sheep, he said. "You wouldn't even probably get a sandwich out of her."
That also helped. He tried to auction her off twice in the 1980s, and both times, she didn't sell.