Saturday, June 18, 2011


Bos primigenius
Aurochs were gigantic wild cattle that roamed about Asia, Europe, and North Africa for hundreds of thousands of years. Likenesses of them are found in prehistoric art, and they are the descendants of many of our modern cattle. However, the last one died in a Polish nature reserve in 1627. The causes for their decline included hunting by humans, and competition with domestic cattle.

But then along came science. Researchers in Europe are now hoping to recreate the Aurochs using a technique called "back-breeding." This process includes looking at a mapped out Aurochs genome and attempting to isolate specific traits that can be found in modern cattle.

There has been a little bit of taxonomic confusion surrounding the Aurochs. Both Bos primigenius and Bos taurus have been used, with the former winning out on the "named first" game. Many domesticated Cattle are treated as a subspecies to the Aurochs, being given the name B. p. taurus.

IUCN Status : Extinct since 1627
Location : Asia, Europe, North Africa
Size : Shoulder height 6.6ft (2m), Weight 2,200lbs (1,000kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae -- Subfamily : Bovinae -- Genus : Bos -- Species : †B. primigenius

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