Standing nearly as tall as an elephant, the auroch grazed for 250,000 years until its extinction in 1627. But its story may not end there: Scientists are close to resurrecting the “supercow,” once the largest land mammal in Europe, reports CNN.
In search of herbivores to maintain land areas at risk of becoming barren, geneticists began breeding auroch descendants with similar cattle breeds in 2008 and found they could “produce animals far closer to the auroch than we would have expected,” says Ronald Goderie of the Tauros Project.
Experts predicted a “near 100% substitute” in seven generations, around 2025. But fourth-generation beasts have already been introduced in Croatia, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Romania, with “very promising” results.
“We see progress not only in looks and behavior but also in de-domestication of the animals,” says Goderie, noting one herd has learned to defend itself against wolves.
The hope is that they will become part of the ecosystem to maintain land for other animals. But not everyone thinks this is a great idea.
A rep for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says it’s unclear…
click here to read more.