The phrase originates in a sermon by Jesus recorded in the Christian New Testament: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Gospel of Matthew 7:15, King James Version).
Widely attributed as one of Aesop's Fables, credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE.[Wikipedia]
Aesop's Fables goes thus:
A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged to the sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf in the Sheep's clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals.
As often happens in nature, symbiotic relationships develop that are beneficial to one species or the other. Here, you see the results of science, not to mention good taste or sound reason, run amok. In this hybrid miscegenation, the Wolf seems to have gained a bit more benefit from this particular combination than has the sheep. Some might argue unfairly so.
(But, if one stops to think, nature wouldn't have designed the Wolf if he-she-him-her-it-they... didn't want fewer sheep grazing the land).
This Wolf in Sheep's clothing, though, takes it to the far reaches of fairness in the predator/prey balance of nature.
However, it is hard to argue the unfairness of it all when one compares the Wolf's advantage to that of the hunter with a pack of dogs, AR-15's with 90 round drum magazines, or sitting above a salt lick in a tree stand. Come on; what's fair for the human is fair for the Wolf.
And, as a final point, if the sheep are willing to procreate with the Wolf, they have obviously lost some of their basic survival traits, pointing directly to a (this is guesswork on my part) diminished brain size. Some increased population loss may help reinstill some of natures basic instincts, such as "Stay far away from Wolves!!!!"
- J. Satterwhite -