Scientist Aim To "De-Extinct" Ancient Cow

Posted: Jan 3 2017, 2:36pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Scientist Aim to "De-Extinct" Ancient Cow
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Scientists are working to bring back an ancient cattle species called an auroch. These animals were absolutely massive, clocking in at some 7 feet tall and weighing in at about 1,000 kg.

These animals roamed Europe for thousands of years until they disappeared in the Jaktorow Forest in Poland in 1627.

Scientists have been working since 2009 to breed cattle that still carry DNA from the auroch. They are trying to bring back the species through this program through two different approaches.

One approach, called Operation Taurus, has selectively bred 300 calves with auroch DNA through something called back-breeding. To do this, they choose cattle with certain characteristic to try to get back to what the original auroch looked like, acted like, and was made up of. They've used several breeds to do this, including the Maremmana from Italy and Podolica and Busha breed from the Balkans.

"They have the highest percentage of aurochs genetic material," Professor Donato Matassino from the operation told The Telegraph. "I don’t think we’ll ever be able to create an animal that is 100 percent like the aurochs, but we can get very close."

Another program is called The Taurus Project which has been cross-breeding to attempt to recreate the animal.

Both projects are part of the Rewilding Europe Project which aims to reintroduce the species that Europe has lost.

"Wild cattle are one of the species that shaped the European landscape over hundreds of thousands of years," Wouter Helmer, founder of Rewilding Europe, told The Telegraph. "If there are no large herbivores then the forest regenerates very fast. Big grazing animals keep patches of land open and create variety in the landscape which helps many thousands of species of plants, insects and animals."

Aurochs are frequent guests in cave paintings across Europe, which suggests they were an important part of our agriculture.

Other programs are working on bringing back wooly mammoths and moas, which were giant flightless birds.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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