Supercows: Scientists Resurrecting Cows As Big As Elephants

By Anne Dominguez , Jan 12, 2017 12:10 PM EST

Cows that are at least as big as elephants will soon walk again on Earth. Scientists are resurrecting the aurochs or the so called supercows and are now close to achieving it. Aurochs is a group of wild, large cattle which previously inhabited Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They are the ancestors of the domestic cattle.

Supercows existed for at least 250,000 years and was once considered as the largest mammal in Europe. The last of its species died in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland in 1627. In 2008, scientist began breeding auroch descendants with similar cattle breeds in search of herbivores that will maintain land areas that might soon become barren in a breeding project.

The Taurus project is composed of a team of multidisciplinary scientists including experts on genetics, molecular biology, history, ecology, archaeology and archaeozoology. It also includes aurochs and breeding experts. Recently, they investigated the genetic code of the aurochs and breed auroch descendants with similar characteristics from the original.

"We thought we needed a grazer that is fully self-sufficient in case of big predators...and could do the job of grazing big wild areas. We reasoned that this animal would have to resemble an auroch," Ronald Goderie of the Tauros Project told CNN. He also said that they were able to produce animals that resemble the aurochs more than expected though breeding.

The researchers further revealed that they would be able to create a near 100 percent substitute of supercows by 2025 after seven breeding generations. Currently, a fourth generation of the animal has already been introduced in countries including Spain, Croatia, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Romania. The researchers reported promising results not just in recreating the physical characteristics and behavior of the aurochs but also in the de-domestication of the animals.

Goderie revealed that a herd of the animals was able to defend itself against wolves. However, not everyone thinks resurrecting the supercows will gain positive results in the ecosystem of wild plants and animals and might also endanger people's lives. Previously, a farmer killed auroch-descended cattle after trying to attack some people.

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