Sunday, 5 October 2014

So many blog ideas, so little time

I am really busy with my studies at the moment and that won't change for a long time, that's why the quantity and quality of my posts here decreased significantly during the last months. So it is not a lack of inspiration... in fact I have a lot of ideas of things to write about. For example, I did way too less on the phylogeny/genetics of cattle and aurochs. Also, I have been planning to discuss the question whether Europe was a wholly forested or open habitat without human influence, or the Pleistocene extinctions. I want to do more species diversification as well, including also other extinct animals that are not necessarily connected to "breeding-back". I am also working on a list of locations where Wisent live in feral or semi-feral conditions, and planning at least one post on bison-cattle hybridization. And the African and Indian aurochs deserve more attention here. I have been planning life restorations of both for a long time now and never got to it. I also want to finally finish my dedomestication series, but I simply do not have the time for it (apart from that, the lack of empirical basis on this issue is demotivating as well). There's a number of short posts on my list as well, such as whether the aurochs had a "mane" or not (if you wonder what that is supposed to mean, stay tuned), breeding-back with other domestic species as a "test", an overview and personal review of the existing Aurochs projects, a list of extinct species that I think could possibly be cloned et cetera. And, of course, updates and news from projects or other issues. For example, there was something going on with the Taurus bulls at Lippeaue that is worth to be mentioned here. 

By the way, I am very happy to see that I still have 150-300 clicks on average per day. Thanks to my readers! 


  1. I am one of those daily clickers. It's always worth to come back even if you haven't written a new post. Rereading the old ones is a real pleasure.
    One thing that strikes me is the efforts to breed back a European Aurochs from the domesticated descendants of the Anatolian one. Were these populations really that similar or could it be worthwhile for you to write a post on the geographic variation of the Aurochs?
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks!
      The difference between European and Anatolian aurochs probably wasn't that significant, at least we have no evidence for it. Apart from that, there also was introgression into the European cattle population. Not to forget, "breeding back" does not turn the time backwards, it is actually just about creating cattle that look like the aurochs and have the ecologic capacities, to have the best stand-in for the aurochs to be released into the wild.

  2. Don't forget that cloning isn't the only way to bring back extinct species. You can also use germ cell transplantation as is being done with passenger pigeons.

    1. I haven't heard of that and it would surprise me if there are viable germ cells left of passenger pigeons and if it is technically possible. The only thing I have heard is that a group of scientists wants to trace down some characteristic genes and insert them into the genome of a related pigeon species, which won't result in a passenger pigeon but something interesting.

    2. They're not using passenger pigeon germ cells. They are inserting passenger pigeon genes into band-tailed pigeon germ stem cells, and inserting the edited germ cells into band-tailed pigeon embryos. The embryos will hatch, grow up, mate and lay eggs that will hatch into "new" passenger pigeons.

      More here: http://longnow.org/revive/de-extinction/2013/why-birds-are-a-challenge/

  3. Building a dinosaur from a chicken:

  4. I believe the Yak would be an absolutely PERFECT genetical contribution in terms of body shape and structure, wilderness adaption, cold tolerance and hardyness. Much better option than the highland cattle. Has this been considered?






    Without a doubt modern cattle, even primitive breeds, has lost some of its wilderness adaptation whilst this has been excersised and kept alive in the yak, where it may contribute with some beneficially in this regard.

    The yak is not closely related to modern cattle, but nonetheless may contribute genetical diversity as well as desired traits.
    In the domestic breeding process the aurochs has lost some of its traits of wilderness adaption regardles, where the yak may be able to fill in some of those holes.

    What do you think?

    1. I should have previewed my last post, but i mean could you find a more exemplary aurochs build than this?


      And the horns!


      They are the second tallest bovine after the Gaur, and their athletic build makes them very fast at short distances. They also tend to fight only over females or when attacked so they are not aggressive towards humans.

      They dont do well on low altitude or in high temperatures but this will be evened out when crossed with cattle breeds and provide with extra cold and altitude resistence.

    2. Hi there, I do agree that a influence of yak in the first generations could be very useful since the yak is a very close relative of the Bos family but in a certain extent also the Banteg and the Kouprey are very interesting. And they all can produce fertile hybrids (at least the females) with cattle.
      Maybe they should be taken in consideration to add wild genes.
      Best regards

    3. What do you think of pandharpuri buffalo?


      Their physical proportions are spot on. Here are a couple of examples of hybridization with standard cattle. Extremely aurochs like:


    4. and http://www.sagbidaj.org/photos/Bulls/BJ/BJ-72.jpg

    5. sorry http://www.sagbidaj.org/photos/Bulls/HF/HF-92.jpg *

    6. http://www.arkive.org/explore/species?taxonomy=animalia_chordata_mammalia_cetartiodactyla_bovidae



    7. http://jagroar.deviantart.com/art/Prehistoric-Safari-Pleistocene-Western-Europe-342650427

  5. Hello there, have a look in this old breed video i have found from Spain, is called Raza de Axarquia or toro de Axarquia, is a descendent of the extinct raza Castellana that was known for its primitiveness. this breed according to this video can weight 1500 kg and be almost 2 m tall ! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrdsa3F3bWM

  6. Image: