Animal Breeding / Biodiversity / Cattle / Genetics / Indigenous Breeds / Livestock

Breeding ancient cattle back from extinction

The only place to see an aurochs in nature these days? A cave painting. The enormous wild cattle that once roamed the European plains have been extinct since 1627, when the last survivor died in a Polish nature reserve. But this could soon change thanks to the work of European preservationists who are hoping they can make the great beast walk again. If they succeed — through a combination of modern genetic expertise and old-fashioned breeding — it would be the first time an animal has been brought back from extinction and released into the wild.

The aurochs was a massive creature, standing more than six feet tall at the shoulder and weighing more than a ton. It had forward-facing horns and a white stripe running down its spine. The prehistoric animal was domesticated about 8,000 years ago, but some aurochs also remained in the wild until the end of the Middle Ages, when scientists believe they became extinct due to overhunting and loss of habitat.

Read more (Time in partnership with CNN)

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