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Aurochs facts for kids

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Temporal range: Late Pliocene to Holocene
Conservation status
Scientific classification
B. primigenius
Binomial name
Bos primigenius

Bos primigenius primigenius
  (Bojanus, 1827)
Bos primigenius namadicus
  (Hugh Falconer, 1859)
Bos primigenius mauretanicus
  (Thomas, 1881)

Bos primigenius Vig uroksen
Aurochs skeleton in Denmark.

The Aurochs, or urus, (Bos primigenius) was a large species of cattle. The aurochs used to be common in Europe. It is extinct now. It was a wild animal, not a domesticated animal. The extinct aurochs/urus is a not the same species as the wisent (the European bison).

According to the Paleontologisk Museum, University of Oslo, aurochs developed in India some two million years ago, came into the Middle East and farther into Asia, and reached Europe about 250,000 years ago. People once thought that they were a different species from modern European cattle (Bos taurus). Today, people think that aurochs and modern cattle are the same species.

Modern cattle have become much smaller than their wild ancestors: the height of a large domesticated cow is about 1.5 meters (5 feet, 15 hands), while aurochs were about 1.75 meters (5.75 feet, 17 hands).

Aurochs also had several features not often seen in modern cattle, such as lyre-shaped horns set at a forward angle, a pale stripe down the spine, and different color according to the gender. Males were black with a pale stripe down the spine, while females and calves were reddish (these colours are still found in a few domesticated cattle breeds, such as Jersey cattle). Aurochs were also known to have very aggressive behaviour, and killing one was seen as an act of courage in ancient cultures.


At one time there were three aurochs subspecies, namely Bos primigenius namadicus (Falconer, 1859) that occurred in India, the Bos primigenius mauretanicus (Thomas, 1881) from North Africa and the Bos primigenius primigenius (Bojanus, 1827) from Europe and the Middle East. Only the European subspecies survived until recent times.

  • American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition (AHD4). Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Headwords aurochs, urus, wisent.
  • Bunzel-Drüke, M. 2001. Ecological substitutes for wild horse (Equus ferus Boddaert, 1785 = E. przewalslii Poljakov, 1881) and Aurochs (Bos primigenius Bojanus, 1827). Natur- und Kulturlandschaft, Höxter/Jena, 4, 10 p. AFKP. Online pdf (298 kB)
  • Garfield, Richard van. 1995. Magic the gathering: gatherer search: Aurochs.
  • International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 2003. Opinion 2027 (Case 3010). Usage of 17 specific names based on wild species which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Bull.Zool.Nomencl., 60:81-84.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bos primigenius para niños

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