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SPECIES Bos taurus

Author:Linnaeus, 1758.
Citation:Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1: 71.
Common Name:Aurochs
Type Locality:Linnaeus (1758) stated "Habitat in Poloniae depressis graminosis ferus Urus". "Urus" applies to the aurochs because Linnaeus' only source was Caesar in his "Gallic Wars" where the aurochs is described (Lydekker, 1912). Other authors have used the name "urus" for the European Bison Bison bonasus, in the 18th Century thought to be the wild form of domestic cattle. Thomas (1911a:154) proposed to restrict the type locality to Sweden, Upsala, applying taurus to domestic cattle.
Distribution:Extinct in the wild, except in Jaktorowka Forest, Masovia, Poland, by commencement of 15th century; last wild individual reputed to have died in 1627. Distributed worldwide under domestication; feral populations in Spain, France, Australia, New Guinea, USA, Colombia, Argentina and many islands, including Hawaiian, Galapagos, Dominican Republic/Haiti, Tristan da Cunha, New Amsterdam and Juan Fernandez Isls.
Status:IUCN Endangered as Pseudonovibos spiralis (but see comments).
Comments:Includes primigenius (extinct wild ancestor surviving into 17th Century) and indicus; but see Corbet (1978c:206). Studies of mtDNA suggest two independent domestications of cattle (Loftus et al. 1994), taurus and indicus, originating presumably from Eurasiatic and Indian populations. Formal synonymy disputed. Gentry et al. (1996) proposed that majority usage be confirmed by adoption of Bos primigenius as the name for the wild taxon of Aurochsen. They asked the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature to use its plenary powers to rule that the name for this wild species is not invalid by virtue of being antedated by the name based on the domestic form. A ruling has now been made in their favour (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 2003a). It may still be valid for those who consider B. taurus and B. primigenius to be conspecific to employ the senior name for the name of the species (see Bock, 1997). Provisionally, indicus, and primigenius are here listed as subspecies of taurus. Kretzoi (1942) noted that urus Linnaeus, 1758 and priscus von Schlotheim, 1820 antedate primigenius Bojanus, 1827. The citation in Linnaeus (1758:71) is as follows: "BOS Taurus a . Urus. Caesar bell. Gall. VI. C. 5. Habitat in Poloniae depressis graminosis ferus Urus [Only distribution given by Linnaeus for Bos taurus]." The name urus Linnaeus is varietal and such names are regarded as available. Independently, Harper (1945) questioned whether primigenius was an available name but it is now conserved (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 2003a). Until the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature rules on Kretzoi's (1942) paper, primigenius is retained as the name for the Aurochs. Fitzinger (1860) listed 102 mostly new binomial or trinomial names for European domestic cattle. Only those cited by other authors are included above. Pseudonovibos spiralis was named from isolated horns (Peter and Feiler, 1994a, b); since known from frontlets with horns in situ (Dioli, 1995, 1997; Timm and Brandt, 2001), some of which had previously been mistaken for Bos sauveli (Hoffman, 1986). History and phylogenetic relationships discussed by Timm and Brandt (2001) who recommended the vernacular name Khting Vor (Khting = gaur, and Vor = spiral climbing plant). Further material examined has been found to consist of horns and associated frontlets of domestic cattle, with the horns modified by carving and twisting when softened by heat (Thomas et al., 2001), and this view is supported by evidence from DNA (Hassanin et al., 2001), but not all specimens, including the type, have been confirmed to be artefacts. A review of the evidence (Brandt et al., 2001) leaves the status of this name equivocal; Brandt, Dioli, Olson, and Timm insist that some specimens are not artefacts and accept assignment to Bos; Seveau suggests that the holotype consists of modified buffalo horns, in which case Pseudonovibos spiralis would be a synonym of Bubalus bubalis (a new name would be necessary for the genuine specimens, if that is what they are); Melville finds the circumstantial evidence for this bovine occurring in Indochina to be flawed. Genetic analysis of another specimen by Kuznetsov et al. (2002) suggested affinities with Bubalis. Further review by Galbreath and Melville (2003) suggests that Pseudonovibos spiralis should not be regarded as a valid species unless new incontrovertable evidence is obtained.
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SUBSPECIES primigenius


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