Monday, June 17, 2013

Content Highlights - Auroch (Bos primigenius)

Did you know that the auroch is the predeccessor of present domestic cow and that the last auroch died in 1627 in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland?

Bos primigenius from Europeana - image is under CC BY-SA of Museum of Geology, University of Tartu.

Auroch was a large, even-toed ungulate (Artiodactyla) herbivore with short black hair and gray or yellowish stripe across the back in males and reddish-brown hair in females. The animal grew up to 2 m of height and 800-1000 kg in weight. Aurochs were pressumablly bound to swamps and swamp forests, such as river valleys, river deltas, and bogs, but they might have also lived in drier forests and perhaps in open grasslands. The animals lived in herds and has social behaviour similar to present domestic cattles.

Bos primigenius from BHL.

As evidenced from fossil remains and other proofs (painting in caves, artefacts), Bos primigenius first appeared in India 2 million years ago and was first domesticated there as early as 9 thousand years ago. From India, Bos primigenius migrated into the Middle East and reached Europe about 270 thousand years ago. In Europe, the animal was among the largest post-glacial herbivores and went domesticated about 6 000 years ago. In a summary, Bos primigenius originally inhibited most of Europe, Northern Africa, middle East, central Asia and India being a common prey of humans as early as in the Paleolite. Hunting finally led to its extinction in the 17th century. Only the Eurasian subspecies (Bos primigenius primigenius) managed to survive until now and is at present distributed worldwide under domestication. From the original species, it differs in smaller size and weight, colour and usually shorter horns. Since the beginning of the 20th century, attemps have been made to breed the original auchor back from the domectic cattles and thus return it back to the wild after 400 years.