This inspired me to do an anatomically reliable reconstruction of the Camebridge cow's head:
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Moving to another snout-based issue, I recently found a photo from 2009 of a Heck herd at Oostvaardersplassen on the Wikimedia Commons:
Taking a closer look, you will realize that some of the cows are rather long-snouted, much more than any Heck cattle outside the reserve and even more than many Taurus cows. This is impressing. It is not the product of artificial but pure natural selection. It is also surprising that this herd is composed of aurochs-coloured individuals exclusively, except that one calf with the white spot on its head - it could be a coincidence, but in the past Oostvaardersplassen had a high portion of grayish, steppe-cattle like individuals because of the bad quality of the founding herds. Now it seems that the number of aurochs-coloured cattle is increasing. How comes that, in the absence of predators, and what's the selective advantage of a long snout?
I think that we see pleiotropic effects here. The farm fox experiment (more on that in a future post) has shown that selection for tameness in domestication also caused new, deviant features common in all domestic animals (white spots and paedomorphy for example). Now, with the cattle being exposed to natural selection for 30 years, I think natural selection favoured any genes that increase the fitness of the individuals, f.e. regulating behavioural aspects, such as dominant behaviour, feistiness etc. These genes might also result in traits seen in the wild-type (aurochs) which have been altered by the usual domestication process. So natural selection can redevelop wild traits even if that particular trait does not have an immediately visible selective advantage, probably even better than artificial selection.
It is really a shame that the dedomestication taking place at Oostvaardersplassen is so horrendously understudied. We are witnessing evolution at work, guys! If a long-term dedomestication study would be started, this population probably will be a prime schoolbook example for an evolutional process.