Can Scientists Resurrect the Aurochs?

Return of the Aurochs | Discover Magazine

Europe’s domestic cattle are descended from the aurochs, a wild animal that died out in 1627, in a Polish forest. For some decades now, scientists have been trying to bring the aurochs back to life via back-breeding. An particularly notorious attempt was made by zoologists in the the Third Reich, resulting in sort-of/kind-of pseudo-aurochs called “Heck Cattle.”

Well, at least we know what the aurochs looked like, because our ancestors painted its picture on the walls of caves. Julius Caesar and other ancient writers described the aurochs’ size, strength, and speed. But by 1627 there were only a few of them left. The local people tried to save them, but at last a winter came that took away the last of the mighty aurochs.

We also have aurochs skeletons.

Aurochs | extinct mammal | Britannica

So… We have skeletons, we have pictures drawn from life, written descriptions, and many domestic breeds of cattle with aurochs DNA in them. And there are still projects ongoing to breed cattle back to the aurochs.

Can this ever succeed? Will it usher in an age of restoring colossal prehistoric animals?

And just how badly do we want that?

4 comments on “Can Scientists Resurrect the Aurochs?

  1. Lee, I think you’ll appreciate this: For years I’ve associated the aurochs with Marcus Didius Falco in one of Lindsey Davis’s Roman mysteries, “The Iron Hand of Mars.” It’s one of my favorites — probably because Falco, in the course of his main mission, also has to whip a raw gaggle of youths into a disciplined Roman fighting unit. (Having been a squadron commander in my day, I sympathized.) Anyway, there’s a real knuckle-biter of an auroch attack in the book, and ever since I read it, I associate the aurochs with Falco and his gaggle of seemingly hopeless recruits, who do get shaped up in the course of the book.

    All of which has nothing to do with your post, but oh well. A little Sunday afternoon ramble through memories is a Good Thing, right? Better than nooze, anyway. 😉

  2. This is MERELY a personal opinion, but it strikes me that the kinds Noah brought onto the ark are probably all still with us, to this day. If God saw fit to preserve every kind on the ark, He must have felt that it was necessary to keep these alive for a purpose. The problem is, from our standpoint, we don’t really know where those lines were drawn.

    Logically, a “kind” would contain species which can interbreed and produce viable offspring. There are all sorts of Crocodilians: alligators, cayman, salt water crocs, Nile crocs, etc. but I would suspect that these species could be one created kind. The mathematical laws governing genetics would suggest that a lot of variety can, and does, happen in a relatively short period of time, within a kind. Built into the genome of these kinds is the ability to adapt to all sorts of conditions.

    I once saw a test where they wired temperature monitors to an Eskimo and to a Caucasian from the lower 48 US and then had them both stand outside in temperatures of about -45 F. It was actually sort of fun to watch, because while the guy from the Lower 48 was obviously finding it quite challenging, the Eskimo was nonchalant and taking it, easily, in his stride. I believe that the upshot of this was that there was some characteristic which allowed the Eskimo’s circulatory system to keep the circulation to his extremities at a higher rate, thus keeping him from being as easily frostbitten as the fellow from the Lower 48. At one point, the guy from the Lower 48 decided that he needed to get inside as a matter of safety while the Eskimo remained nonchalant and looked as if he could have stayed outside all day.

    If we multiply this difference in characteristics put by the number of “kinds”, and factor in the wide varieties of climates and environments in the world, there is a lot of room for diverse species (which is a much finer distinction than kinds) to exist. We may not see certain species, because the environments in which they flourished no longer exist.

    While mainstream science teaches that dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, young-earth creationists feel that they were contemporary with humans. Recent discoveries of soft tissues in dinosaur fossils would seem to support that dinosaurs were much more recent than 65 million years ago. At the Flood, God brought all air breathing land animals to the ark, to be preserved, so if dinosaurs existed, it’s quite feasible that there were dinosaurs on the ark, possibly juvenile examples, which would be small. Legends of dragons, which are consistent in many places on earth, suggest that when animal behavior changed after the Flood, dinosaurs and humans encountered one another and eventually these aggressive reptiles were hunted to extinction. Beyond that, climate changes that may have happened at the time of the Flood might well have made matters a bit unfavorable for huge reptiles.

    Again, stating only a personal opinion, I believe that the “kind” which produced dinosaurs exists, and even prospers on the earth today. The Auroch has no need to be concerned.

    1. The original aurochs was hunted and bred to extinction, but it has many descendants among our domestic cattle. Aurochs DNA still lives.

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