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Aurochs
Fossil range: Late Pliocene to Holocene
Augsburg depiction of an Aurochs
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bos
Species: B. primigenius
Binomial name
Bos primigenius
Subspecies

Bos primigenius indicus
  (Linnaeus, 1758)
Bos primigenius primigenius
  (Bojanus, 1827)
Bos primigenius namadicus
  (Falconer, 1859)
Bos primigenius mauretanicus
  (Thomas, 1881)

Synonyms

Bos mauretanicus Thomas, 1881
Bos namadicus Falconer, 1859

The aurochs or urus (Bos primigenius) the ancestor of domestic cattle, was a type of huge wild cattle which inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is now extinct; it survived in Europe until 1627.

The aurochs was far larger than most modern domestic cattle with a shoulder height of 2 metres (6.6 ft) and weighing 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb). Domestication occurred in several parts of the world at roughly the same time, about 8,000 years ago. It was regarded as a challenging quarry animal, contributing to its extinction.

The last recorded live aurochs, a female, died in 1627 in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland and its skull is now the property of Livrustkammaren in Stockholm.

Aurochs appear in prehistoric cave paintings, Julius Caesar's The Gallic War and as the national symbol of many European countries, states and cities such as Alba-Iulia, Kaunas, Romania, Moldavia, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Uri.

In 1920, German biologists the Heck brothers attempted to recreate aurochs. The resulting cattle breeds, known as Heck cattle and Reconstructed Aurochs, number in the thousands in Europe today with varying resemblance to original aurochs but without such impressive size or wild behavior.

Contents

Nomenclature

This specimen is from around 7500 BC and is one of two very well preserved aurochs skeletons found in Denmark. The Vig-aurochs can be seen at The National Museum of Denmark. The circles indicate where the animal was wounded by arrows.

The words "aurochs", "urus", and "wisent" have all been used synonymously in English.[2][3] However, the extinct aurochs/urus is a completely separate species from the still-extant wisent (the European bison).

The animal's original scientific name, Bos primigenius, was meant as a Latin translation of the German term Auerochse or Urochs, which was (possibly incorrectly) interpreted as literally meaning "primeval ox" or "proto-ox". This scientific name is now considered invalid by Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), who classify aurochs under Bos taurus—the same species as domestic cattle. In 2003, however, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature "conserved the usage of 17 specific names based on wild species, which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic forms",[4] confirming Bos primigenius for the Aurochs. Taxonomists who consider domesticated cattle a subspecies of the wild Aurochs should use B. primigenius taurus; the name B. taurus remains available for domestic cattle where it is considered to be a separate species.

Illustration from Sigismund von Herberstein's book published in 1556 captioned "I'm 'urus', tur in Polish, aurox in German (dunces call me bison)";
Latin original: Urus sum, polonis Tur, germanis Aurox: ignari Bisontis nomen dederant

The word aurochs (pronounced /ˈaʊrɒks/ or /ˈɔrɒks/) comes to English from German, where its normative spelling and declension today is Auerochs/Auerochse (singular), Auerochsen (genitive), Auerochsen (plural). The declension in English varies, being either "aurochs" (singular), "aurochs" (plural)[5][6] or "aurochs" (singular), "aurochses" (plural).[6] The declension "auroch" (singular), "aurochs" (plural), acknowledged by MWU,[6] is a back-formation analogous to "pea"-from-"pease" derived from a misinterpretation of the singular form's ending in the /s/ sound (being cognate to "ox/Ochs(e)"). The use in English of the plural form "aurochsen" is not acknowledged by AHD4 or MWU, but is mentioned in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.[7] It is directly parallel to the German plural and analogous (and cognate) to English "ox" (singular), "oxen" (plural).

The word urus (/ˈjʊərəs/) comes to English from Latin, but may have come to Latin from Germanic origins.[8] It declines in English as "urus" (singular), "uruses" (plural).[8][9] The Germanic aurochs itself has evolved from the Proto-Indo-European *táwros, just like Ancient Greek ταϋρος (tauros), Latin taurus and Slavic tur (Proto-Slavic: *turъ).

Origin

An Aurochs fighting a Eurasian Wolf pack.

According to the Paleontologisk Museum, University of Oslo, aurochs evolved in India some two million years ago, migrated into the Middle East and further into Asia, and reached Europe about 250,000 years ago.[10] They were once considered a distinct species from modern European cattle (Bos taurus), but more recent taxonomy has rejected this distinction. The South Asian domestic cattle, or zebu, descended from a different group of aurochs at the edge of the Thar Desert; this would explain the zebus' resistance to drought. Domestic yak, gayal and Javan cattle do not descend from aurochs. Modern cattle have become much smaller than their wild forebears. Aurochs were about 1.75 metres (5.7 ft) tall, while a large domesticated cow is about 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) and most domestic cattle are much smaller than this.[11] Aurochs also had several features rarely seen in modern cattle, such as lyre-shaped horns set at a forward angle, a pale stripe down the spine, and sexual dimorphism of coat color. Males were black with a pale eel stripe or finching down the spine, while females and calves were reddish (these colours are still found in a few domesticated cattle breeds, such as Jersey cattle). Aurochs were also known to have very aggressive temperaments and killing one was seen as a great act of courage in ancient cultures.

Subspecies

At one time there existed three aurochs subspecies, Bos primigenius namadicus (Falconer, 1859) that occurred in India, Bos primigenius mauretanicus (Thomas, 1881) from North Africa and Bos primigenius primigenius (Bojanus, 1827) from Europe and the Middle East. Only the European subspecies survived until recent times.

Behavioral patterns

The recovery pattern of aurochs remains lead to the belief that they preferred swampy and wet wooded areas and, like modern cattle, could swim for short distances enabling them to inhabit islands within their range. Their diet is thought to have consisted of green grass and leaves with occasional tree fruits. Aurochs species were found to have lived on the island of Sicily where once there was a land bridge to Italy. After disappearance of the land bridge, Sicilian aurochs evolved to a size 20% smaller than their mainland relatives. Although the European bison prefers drier forest they would most certainly have lived in areas overlapping aurochs territory. Little else is known about Aurochs habits. Although they survived until the 17th century in Poland they were in competition with modern cattle for food and hunted by humans contributing to their extinction.[12 ]

Domestication and extinction

Skull of an aurochs.
Monument to the last aurochs in Jaktorów, Poland.

Domestication of the aurochs began in the southern Caucasus and northern Mesopotamia from about the 6th millennium BC, while genetic evidence suggests that aurochs were independently domesticated in northern Africa and in India.[13] The modern domesticated cattle descended from the aurochs are so different in size that they have been regarded as a separate species[12 ].

Aurochs horn from 200,000 years BP found near Madrid (Spain)

Comparison of aurochs bones with those of modern cattle has provided many insights about the aurochs. Remains of the beast, from specimens believed to have weighed more than a ton, have been found in Mesolithic sites around Goldcliff, Wales.[14] Though aurochs became extinct in Britain during the Bronze age, analysis of bones from aurochs that lived in the same age as domesticated cattle there showed no genetic contribution to modern breeds. As a result, modern European cattle are now thought to have descended directly from the Near East domestication event. Indian cattle (zebu), although domesticated eight to ten thousand years ago, are related to aurochs which diverged from the Near Eastern ones some 200,000 years ago. African cattle are thought to descend from aurochs more closely related to the Near Eastern ones. The Near East and African aurochs groups are thought to have split some 25,000 years ago, probably 15,000 years before domestication. The "Turano-Mongolian" type of cattle now found in Northern China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan may represent a fourth domestication event (and a third event among Bos taurus–type aurochs). This group may have diverged from the Near East group some 35,000 years ago. Whether these separate genetic populations would have equated to separate subspecies is unclear.

The original range of the aurochs was from Britain and Ireland and southern Scandinavia, to northern Africa, the Middle East, India and central Asia. By the 13th century A.D., the aurochs' range was restricted to Poland, Lithuania, Moldavia, Transylvania and East Prussia. The right to hunt large animals on any land was restricted to nobles and gradually to the royal household. As the population of aurochs declined, hunting ceased but the royal court still required gamekeepers to provide open fields for the aurochs to graze in. The gamekeepers were exempted from local taxes in exchange for their service and a decree made poaching an aurochs punishable by death. In 1564, the gamekeepers knew of only 38 animals, according to the royal survey. The last recorded live aurochs, a female, died in 1627 in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland from natural causes. The skull was later taken by the Swedish Army during the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655–1660) and is now the property of Livrustkammaren in Stockholm. The causes of extinction were hunting, a narrowing of habitat due to the development of farming, climatic changes and diseases transmitted by domestic cattle.[15]

Attempts at breeding back

In the 1920s two German zoo directors (in Berlin and Munich), the brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck, began a selective breeding program in the attempt to breed the aurochs back into existence (see breeding back) from the domestic cattle that were their descendants. Their plan was based on the concept that a species is not extinct as long as all its genes are still present in a living population. The result is the breed called Heck cattle, "Recreated Aurochs", or "Heck Aurochs", which bears some resemblance to what is known about the appearance of the wild aurochs.[12 ]

Scientists of Polish Foundation for Recreating the Auroch (PFOT) in Poland now want to use the DNA stored in the bones of aurochs displayed in museums to recreate the aurochs and return these animals to the forests of Poland which they symbolised in the Middle Ages. The project has gained the support of the Polish Ministry of the Environment. They plan research on ancient preserved DNA. Similar research projects have been run in the West over the past twenty years and their results published in such periodicals as ‘Nature’ and ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA’. Polish scientists believe that modern genetics and biotechnology make recreating an animal almost identical to aurochs possible (99 percent gene compatibility). They say this research will lead to examining the causes of the extinction of the aurochs, and help in preventing a similar situation occurring among domestic cattle.[16]

Aurochs in art, history, mythology, and media

Aurochs on a cave painting in Lascaux, France.
  • Aurochs are depicted in many Paleolithic European cave paintings such as those found at Lascaux and Livernon in France. Early carvings of the aurochs have also been found. The impressive and dangerous aurochs survived into the Iron Age in Anatolia and the Near East, and was worshipped throughout that area as a sacred animal, the Lunar Bull, associated with the Great Goddess and later with Mithras.
  • A 1999 archaeological dig in Peterborough, England, uncovered the skull of an aurochs. The front part of the skull had been removed but the horns remained attached. The supposition is that the killing of the aurochs in this instance was a sacrificial act.
  • Aurochs are depicted on the Ishtar Gate.
  • The ancient name of the Estonian town of Rakvere, Tarwanpe or Tarvanpea, probably derives from Auroch's head (Tarva pea) in ancient Estonian. A 3.5m high and 7.1m long Statue of an Aurochs was opened in Rakvere in 2002, for the town's 700th birthday. The sculpture, made by artist Tauno Kangro, has become a symbol of the town.[17]
  • The wild-ox called re'em (Strong's # 07214) in the Bible (Numbers 23:22 and 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9–10, Psalms 22:21, 29:6, 92:10 and Isaiah 34:7) is occasionally associated with the aurochs and has incorrectly been translated as "unicorn" in the past (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Entry for 'Wild Ox', Copyright, 1939, by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).
  • Julius Caesar wrote about them in Gallic War Chapter 6.28, "...those animals which are called uri. These are a little below the elephant in size, and of the appearance, color, and shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary; they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them. The young men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice themselves in this sort of hunting, and those who have slain the greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public, to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tamed. The size, shape, and appearance of their horns differ much from the horns of our oxen. These they anxiously seek after, and bind at the tips with silver, and use as cups at their most sumptuous entertainments."
Possible version of a Moldavian princely flag in use during the time of Stephen the Great
  • An aurochs head, the traditional arms of the German region Mecklenburg, is included in the coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The aurochs ("bour" in Romanian) was also the symbol of Moldavia; nowadays they can be found in the coat of arms of both Romania and Moldova. The horn of the aurochs is a charge of coat of arms of Tauragė, Lithuania. It is also present in the emblem of Kaunas, Lithuania, and was part of the emblem of Bukovina during its time as a Kronland of Austria-Hungary. The Swiss Canton of Uri is named after the aurochs. Its yellow Flag shows a black aurochs head.
  • The last lines of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita are: "I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita."
  • East Slavic surnames Turenin, Turishchev, Turov, Turovsky originate from the East Slavic name of the species (Tur).[18]
  • Turopolje, a large lowland floodplain south of the Sava river in Croatia, got its name after the once abundant aurochs (Croatian: tur).
  • American heavy metal band The Sword recorded a song entitled "Lament of the Aurochs" on their debut album Age of Winters.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Tikhonov, A. (2008). Bos primigenius. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 5 January 2008.
  2. ^ AHD4, headwords "aurochs", "urus", "wisent".
  3. ^ MWU, headwords "aurochs", "urus", "wisent".
  4. ^ BZN 63(3) General Articles & Nomenclatural Notes
  5. ^ AHD4, headword "aurochs".
  6. ^ a b c MWU, headword "aurochs".
  7. ^ Crystal, David (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (2nd ed. ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521530334.  
  8. ^ a b AHD4, headword "urus".
  9. ^ MWU, headword "urus".
  10. ^ Paleontologisk Museum
  11. ^ Height of Holstein cows (at hips – note that cattle are often slightly taller at the withers than the hips).
  12. ^ a b c Cis T Van Vuure, Retracing the Aurochs: History, Morphology and Ecology of an Extinct Wild Ox, Aurochs (Extinct Species, Mammals), The Extinction Website
  13. ^ (see Shaffer and Liechtenstein 1995, 1999)
  14. ^ "Rescuing a Mesolithic foreshore". Time Team. 2004-02-22. No. 8, season 11.
  15. ^ HISTORY OF THE AUROCHS (BOS TAURUS PRIMIGENIUS) IN POLAND by Mieczyslaw Rokosz’; Published in Animal Genetic Resources Information (1995) published under the joint auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Envirornment Programme (UNEP) (Pdf of 1995 issue of the Animal Genetic Resources Information - This publication contains the papers presented during a workshop held at the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum in Pretoria in March 1994. [1]); A more readable on-line copy without bibliography [2] Retrieved 2009-12-22
  16. ^ Polish geneticists want to recreate the extinct auroch; 2007-11-28; Science and Scholarship in Poland; Polish Press Agency (PAP)
  17. ^ Rakvere linn (Estonian)
  18. ^ Russian Surnames. Popular Etymological Dictionary. Yu. A. Fedosyuk. 6th Ed.

References

  • American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition (AHD4). Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Headwords aurochs, urus, wisent.
  • Bunzel-Drüke, M. 2001. Ecological substitutes for Wild Horse (Equus ferus Boddaert, 1785 = E. przewalslii Poljakov, 1881) and Aurochs (Bos primigenius Bojanus, 1827). Natur- und Kulturlandschaft, Höxter/Jena, 4, 10 p. AFKP. Online pdf (298 kB)
  • C. Julius Caesar. Caesar's Gallic War. Translator. W. A. McDevitte. Translator. W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper's New Classical Library.
  • International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 2003. Opinion 2027 (Case 3010). Usage of 17 specific names based on wild species which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Bull.Zool.Nomencl., 60:81–84.
  • Merriam-Webster Unabridged (MWU). (Online subscription-based reference service of Merriam-Webster, based on Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002.) Headword aurochs. Accessed 2007-06-02.
  • Shaffer, Jim G. (1995). Cultural tradition and Palaeoethnicity in South Asian Archaeology. In: Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. Ed. George Erdosy. ISBN 8121507901
  • Shaffer, Jim G. (1999). Migration, Philology and South Asian Archaeology. In: Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia. Ed. Bronkhorst and Deshpande. ISBN 1-888789-04-2.
  • Vuure, T. van. 2002. History, morphology and ecology of the Aurochs (Bos primigenius). Lutra 45-1. Online pdf (603 kB)
  • Vuure, C. van. 2005. Retracing the Aurochs: History, Morphology and Ecology of an Extinct Wild Ox. Pensoft Publishers. Sofia-Moscow.
  • Wilson, Don E. and DeeAnn M. Reeder: Mammals.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AUROCHS (from Lat. urus, the wild ox, and "ox") or Urus, the name of the extinct wild ox of Europe (Bos taurus primigenius), which after the disappearance of that animal became transferred to the bison. According to the German Freiherr von Herberstein (1486-1566), in his Moscovia, of which an Italian translation was published at Venice in 1550, the aurochs survived in Poland (and probably also in Hungary) during the latter middle ages. In this work appear woodcuts - rude but characteristic and unmistakable - of two distinct types of European wild cattle; one the aurochs, or ur, and the other the bison. As Herberstein had travelled in Poland, it is probable that he had seen both species alive, and the drawings were most likely executed under his own direction. It has indeed been suggested that the figure of the aurochs was taken from a domesticated ox, but this is a mistaken idea. Not the least important feature of the work of Herberstein is the application of the name aurochs to the wild ox, as distinct from the bison. The locality where aurochs survived in Herberstein's time was the forest of Jaktozowka, situated about 55 kilometres west-south-west of Warsaw, in the provinces of Bolemow and Sochaczew. From other evidence it appears that the last aurochs was killed in this forest in the year 1627. Herberstein describes the colour of the aurochs as black, and this is confirmed by another old picture of the animal. Gesner's figure of the aurochs, or as he calls it "thur," given in the Icones to his History of Animals, was probably adapted from Herberstein's. It may be added that an ancient gold goblet depicts the hunting and taming of the wild aurochs.

As a wild animal, then, the aurochs appears to have ceased to exist in the early part of the 17th century; but as a species it survives, for the majority of the domesticated breeds of European cattle are its descendants, all diminished in point of size, and some departing more widely from the original type than others. Aurochs' calves were in all probability captured by the early inhabitants of Britain and the continent and tamed; and from these, with perhaps an occasional blending of wild blood, are descended most European breeds of cattle.

Much misconception, however, has prevailed as to which breeds are the nearest to the ancestral wild stock. At one time this position was supposed to be occupied by the white half-wild cattle of Chillingham and other British parks. These white breeds are, however, partial albinos; and such semi-albinos are always the result of domestication and could not have arisen in the wild state. Moreover, park-cattle display evidence of their descent from dark-coloured breeds by the retention of red or black ears and brown or black muzzles. In the Chillingham cattle the ears are generally red, although sometimes black, and the muzzle is brown; while in the breed at Cadzow Chase, Lanarkshire, both ears and muzzle are black, and there are usually flecks of black on the head and forequarters. It is further significant that, in the Chillingham herd, dark-coloured calves, which are weeded out, make their appearance from time to time.

A very ancient British breed is the black Pembroke; and when this breed tends to albinism, the ears and muzzle, and more rarely the fetlocks, remain completely black, or very dark grey, although the colour elsewhere is whitish, more or less flecked and blotched with pale grey. In the shape and curvature of the horns, which at first incline outwards and forwards, and then bend somewhat upwards and inwards, this breed of cattle resembles the aurochs and the (by comparison) dwarfed park-breeds. Moreover, in both the Pembroke and the park-breeds the horns are lightcoloured with black tips.

Evidence as to the affinity between these breeds is afforded by the fact that a breed of cattle very similar to that at Chillingham was found in Wales in the 10th century; these cattle being white with red ears. Individuals of this race survived till at least 1850 in Pembroke, where they were at one time kept perfectly pure as a part of the regular farm-stock. Until a period comparatively recent, they were relatively numerous, and were driven in droves to the pasturages of the Severn and the neighbouring markets. Their whole essential characters are the same as those of the cattle at Chillingham. Their horns are white, tipped with black, and extended and turned upwards in the manner distinctive of the park-breed. The inside of the ears and the muzzle are black, and the feet are black to the fetlock joint. The skin is unctuous and of a deep-toned yellow colour. Individuals of the race were sometimes born entirely black, and then were not to be distinguished from the common Pembroke cattle of the mountains.

It is thus evident that park-cattle are an albino offshoot from the ancient Pembroke black breed, which, from their soft and well-oiled skins, are evidently natives of a humid climate, such as that of the forests in which dwelt the wild aurochs. This disposes of a theory that they are descendants of a white sacrificial breed introduced into Britain by the ancient Romans.

The Pembroke and park-cattle are, however, by no means the sole descendants of the aurochs, the black Spanish fighting-bulls claiming a similar descent. This breed shows a light-coloured line along the spine, which was characteristic of the aurochs. It has also been suggested that the Swiss Siemental cattle are nearly related to the aurochs. The latter was a gigantic animal, especially during the Pleistocene period; the skulls and limbbones discovered in the brick-earths and gravels of the Thames valley and many other parts of England having belonged to animals that probably stood six feet at the shoulder. (R. L.*)


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Simple English

Aurochs
Fossil range: Late Pliocene to Holocene
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bos
Species: B. primigenius
Binomial name
Bos primigenius
Subspecies

Bos primigenius primigenius
  (Bojanus, 1827)
Bos primigenius namadicus
  (Falconer, 1859)
Bos primigenius mauretanicus
  (Thomas, 1881)

[[File:|thumb|240px|Aurochs skeleton in Denmark.]]

File:Heck cattle
Heck cattle look similar to the Aurochs

The Aurochs,[1] or urus, (Bos primigenius) was a large species of cattle, once common in Europe but now extinct.[2] It was a wild animal, not a domesticated animal. The extinct aurochs/urus is a completely separate species from the wisent (the European bison).[3]

According to the Paleontologisk Museum, University of Oslo, aurochs developed in India some two million years ago, came into the Middle East and farther into Asia, and reached Europe about 250,000 years ago.[4] They were once thought a different species from modern European cattle (Bos taurus), but today not any more.

Modern cattle have become much smaller than their wild ancestors: the height of a large domesticated cow is about 1.5 meters (5 feet, 15 hands),[5] while aurochs were about 1.75 meters (5.75 feet, 17 hands).

Aurochs also had several features not often seen in modern cattle, such as lyre-shaped horns set at a forward angle, a pale stripe down the spine, and different color according to the gender. Males were black with a pale stripe down the spine, while females and calves were reddish (these colours are still found in a few domesticated cattle breeds, such as Jersey cattle). Aurochs were also known to have very aggressive behaviour, and killing one was seen as an act of courage in ancient cultures.

Contents

= Subspecies

= At one time there were three aurochs subspecies, namely Bos primigenius namadicus (Falconer, 1859) that occurred in India, the Bos primigenius mauretanicus (Thomas, 1881) from North Africa and the Bos primigenius primigenius (Bojanus, 1827) from Europe and the Middle East. Only the European subspecies survived until recent times.

Notes

  1. The word is both singular and plural.
  2. The animal's first scientific name, Bos primigenius, was meant as a Latin translation of the German term Auerochse or Urochs, which was they thought meant "primeval ox" or "proto-ox". Today, ITIS say this name is wrong. They classify aurochs under Bos taurus, the same species as domestic cattle. In 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature "conserved the usage of 17 specific names based on wild species, which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic forms" (http://www.iczn.org/BZNSep2006general_articles.html) confirming Bos primigenius for the Aurochs. Taxonomists who consider domesticated cattle a subspecies of the wild Aurochs should use B. primigenius taurus; the name B. taurus remains available for domestic cattle where it is considered to be a separate species.
  3. The word Aurochs (IPA: /ˈaʊrɒks/ or /ˈɔrɒks/) comes to English from German. The use in English of the plural form aurochsen is the same as the German plural and just like English ox (sg), oxen (pl). The word urus (/ˈjʊərəs/) comes to English from Latin, but came to Latin from Germanic origins. AHD4, headword urus. The words aurochs, urus, and wisent  have all been used synonymously in English. AHD4, headwords aurochs, urus, wisent. MWU, headwords aurochs, urus, wisent.
  4. [1]
  5. Height of Holstein cows

References

  • American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition (AHD4). Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Headwords aurochs, urus, wisent.
  • Bunzel-Drüke, M. 2001. Ecological substitutes for wild horse (Equus ferus Boddaert, 1785 = E. przewalslii Poljakov, 1881) and Aurochs (Bos primigenius Bojanus, 1827). Natur- und Kulturlandschaft, Höxter/Jena, 4, 10 p. AFKP. Online pdf (298 kB)
  • Garfield, Richard van. 1995. Magic the gathering: gatherer search: Aurochs. http://gatherer.wizards.com/?first=1&last=100&term=aurochs&Field_Name=on&Field_Rules=on&Field_Type=on&setfilter=Allsets&colorfilter=All
  • International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 2003. Opinion 2027 (Case 3010). Usage of 17 specific names based on wild species which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Bull.Zool.Nomencl., 60:81-84.

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