Scientists Reveal Secrets Of Extinct Cow With Bulldog Face

Posted: Jun 17 2018, 1:52am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Scientists Reveal Secrets of Extinct Cow with Bulldog Face
Reconstruction of the short-faced niata cow. Credit: Jorge González, La Plata, Argentina

New study reveals that the now-extinct cattle was a true breed with unique cranial features

Using latest genetic and anatomical techniques, researchers have extensively studied the fossil remains of a unique cattle breed.

The now-extinct cow, called the niata cattle, was unlike any other known animal in the world. It was a dwarf cow and had a short face like a bulldog. Charlis Darwin described the appearance of niata when he first saw the animal in Argentina 180 years ago. The animal became extinct by early twentieth century. However, researchers are still fascinated by this unique breed.

"Very few people know that hundreds of years ago a cow with a face similar to the shape of a bulldog's existed, called the niata cow.” Scientist Dr. Laura Wilson from the University of New South Wales said.

A new analysis of niata cow’s anatomy and skull biomechanic shows that it was clearly a different variety of cattle and unlike some bulldogs it did not suffer breathing or eating problems because of its peculiar skull structure.

"In our study, we set out to find out more about some of the animal's anatomical and genetic characteristics,” said co-author Sánchez-Villagra from the University of Zurich. “Our principal finding is that the niata was a taurine breed, unique among cattle.”

There are only a limited number of niata skeletons available in a few collections around the world. For the first time, researchers have used these skeletal remains and attempted to understand the anatomy and the evolution of this peculiar cow. The results confirmed that the extinct niata cow was a true breed with unique cranial features. Charles Darwin already suggested that a niata bull and common cow invariably produce niata calves.

"A true breed is a kind which is preserved over time in its features and can be distinguished from other breeds – even if crosses with other breeds do occur.” Dr. Wilson said.

Anatomical analyses showed that although the face of the niata cow was shortened, the nose regions of the niata were not affected by these changes.

"The niata cow represents an example of extinction of rare breeds. Understanding aspects of its biology allows scientists to better understand how threatened species may be supported,” said Dr. Wilson. "While we don't really do not know why the niata went extinct – detailed studies of its populations over time do not exist – we can make good guesses. We now know that in spite of the singularity of the niata, this cow was able to eat and live like any other cow.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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