The domestic cow as a species has been used for many millennia, but who was the ancestor of the cow, because all domesticated animal species once had wild ancestors and brothers?! What the ancestor of all cows looked like and where he lived is described in this article.
What species is a cow?
An ordinary domestic cow belongs to the artiodactyl family of ruminants, and the name of the animal (cow) comes from the ancient Greek “keraos”, which means “horned”. A cow is a female of an ordinary bull, which was tamed and domesticated by human ancestors many thousands of years ago. It is interesting that this species of animals at different ages has different names:
- a cow is an adult female that has already had offspring.
- a calf is a baby of a cow up to 8-10 months.
- heifer or heifer - this is the name of the future cow, which has reached puberty and is ready to mate or is already inseminated.
- a bull is an adult male who inseminates cows and heifers.
- an ox is a castrated bull destined for meat.
When were cows domesticated?
Who were the ancestors of the domestic cow, anyone wondered? After all, initially all kinds of animalsand birds were wild, and domestic species appeared due to the efforts of our ancestors. Cows, or rather her ancestors, already lived on the planet during the Neolithic period, from about the eighth century BC.
Ancient people domesticated this animal after goats and pigs, because in those days people began to gather in vast tribes and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Most likely, they were seduced by the strength of the cow's ancestors: the first tamed animals were used as draft power, later the ability to always have fresh milk for food became another significant factor for the domestication of cattle. Therefore, the gaze of a person fell on the then-dwelling tour, a wild bull from the family of bovids that lived on the territory of present-day Central Asia.
Wild ancestor of domestic cow
Tur is a powerful artiodactyl, which reached a height of 180 cm (at the withers) and had a weight often reaching a ton, but at the same time the body was muscular, and not swollen with fat. This ancestor of the cow usually had a black color in bulls, and females were more often brownish or red, but there were also individuals of mixed color. The head of the tour was set high on a powerful neck, the horns were sharp and rather long: often more than a meter in length and weighing about 12 kg, they curved like a lyre and rushed forward at the enemy.
These animals fed mainly on leaves and young shoots of shrubs and trees, grass and fallen fruits of fruit trees, lived in small groups, but in winter they often gathered inlarger herds, although most predators were not afraid of this animal: aggressive disposition, powerful muscles and large horns repulsed anyone. Only individuals weakened by disease or age could become the object of attack by wolves, lions and other wild animals.
Where did they live?
In ancient times, the ancestor of the cow was found throughout Europe, Asia Minor and even in the Caucasus and North Africa, but by the third century BC. e. in Africa has already been exterminated by man. The meat and skin of the tour fell in love with the most dangerous predator on the planet, so by 600 BC there were no tours in Mesopotamia either.
Are there tours in nature now?
Intensive deforestation in the 9th-11th centuries AD in Europe led to the fact that the auroch as a species was significantly reduced and gradually disappeared; the territory of Poland and then thanks to the decree of Sigismund the Third, who wished to preserve the aurochs as a species in his reserve. In 1564, only 30 individuals remained in this place, and in 1620 - only one female.
The wild ancestor of the cow as a species ceased to exist in 1627, when the last Turkish woman died, in Yaktorovo (Ukraine) a monolithic boulder with an inscription was erected in her honor. The cause of death of an isolated herd is considered a banal degradation of genes when individuals that are close in kinship (father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister) interbreed. It was obvious that the herd had no chance.
HistoriansIt is believed that active and ruthless human activity became the cause of the mass extinction of tours all over the planet: on the one hand, economic - deforestation, plowing land for fields, as well as hunting for this beast, because in the Middle Ages it was considered prestigious to get the head of this animal. Having survived the Ice Age and more than a million years of evolution, this majestic animal fell under the pressure of an individual several times smaller.
How did the tour become a pet?
In the process of domestication, the auroch as a species gradually mutated into a smaller individual, but milk production increased, which was one of the decisive factors in the selection of producers. The height of the animals became less by a good half a meter, the weight also decreased by 300 -350 kg, and the horns gradually became shorter, as often a person filed their peaks too sharp. At the same time, genetic studies of scientists proved that cows had more than one ancestor, and in different territories of the planet, domestication began in parallel from several groups.
The memory of the ancestor of the cow - the tur still lives among the peoples of Ukraine, there is a proverb "He has a nature like a tur", reflecting the aggressive and restive disposition of a person who is not afraid of anything. Also, the word “turnut” reminds a person of this animal, that is, push hard, “pull out” - a push followed by a fall of the opponent. According to some versions, a round in chess is a piece named after a wild animal, famous for its power and strength. Cattle have become one of the symbols of we alth.
Who elseis a relative of the tour?
The closest in phenotype to the ancestor of the cow, scientists consider the Lydian fighting bull, which is used in bullfighting in Spain and Portugal, as well as the Heck bull, which was bred by breeders in the 1920s and 30s in Germany. The Heck bull is named after the Heck brothers: Heinz and Lutz, who, at the request of Hitler, were engaged in breeding a breed as similar as possible to the ancient tour. The project was closed during the war, and they tried to exterminate the "fascist cows". Fortunately, a few individuals survived in zoos, which again became the object of research after 1970.
Also close relatives of the tour are Ukrainian gray cattle, watussi - cattle of Africa, as well as zebu - now living in Hindustan and nearby lands.
It is a mistake to assume that the living and fairly common buffaloes are also descendants of the aurochs, in fact it is a separate species. Tur belongs to the order of bulls, and buffaloes belong to the order of the same name, since their morphological differences do not allow the reproduction of offspring: bulls have 60 chromosomes per cell, and buffaloes have only 58.
Will the tour be a clone?
In one of the caves of Derbyshire, in the central part of England, the remains of an ancestor of a cow were found, which are more than six thousand years old. Several leading institutes in the UK and Ireland conducted a thorough analysis of the genetic material and produced the first strand of the DNA tour. Polish scientists intend to use this data to clone the animal, their desire is actively supported by the PolishMinistry of Environmental Protection.
Whether society needs this procedure and whether it will entail mass cloning of long-extinct animals and birds, scientists do not advertise, while there are suspicions that these experiments have long been carried out under the heading "secret" so as not to disturb unstable minds people.