The aurochs: due for a comeback? | Palaeontology

Saturday, July 31, 2010 - 18:21 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Robin McKie on how scientists aim to bring back the aurochs, wild ancestor of modern cows"They are a little below the elephant in size and… their strength and speed are extraordinary. They spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied." Thus Julius Caesar described the aurochs, an ancient ancestor of domestic cattle which inhabited much of Europe before being wiped out hundreds of years ago.Today, the only evidence we have for the existence of these great bovines, which stood more than 2m high and weighed more than a tonne, are a few skeletons in museums and several dramatic cave paintings made by Cro-Magnon people tens of thousands of years ago. The latter show how these giant creatures – which had giant forward-facing horns and a white stripe down their spines – dominated the landscape and the imaginations of early human beings.But now scientists are attempting to turn back...

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