Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Genealogical trees for some Taurus cattle from the Lippeaue

Using stock lists of the Taurus cattle population in the nature reserve Lippeaue, Germany, of the years 2015, 2013 and 2011 I was able to track down the full genealogy of a number of Taurus individuals to their last un-crossed ancestors. I have been planning to visualize that since a few days after my return from the Lippeaue in 2015 (see here).

Thanks to an extensive photo archive that I was provided by Matthias Scharf from the ABU, I was able to do five complete genealogical tables showing the ancestry of 24 crossbred animals, about the half of which are still present in the herd.
I used the program GIMP to make these tables simply by arranging them in the correct order and putting lines on them, since I don’t know of a program that would be better for visualizing such genealogical trees.  

Now I am going to cover the respective trees and give some information on those individuals that have not been covered on the blog here. I have been planning to do a post on older, not formerly presented individuals from the Lippeaue of past years here for a long time, so more information is about to come and I don’t want to give away too much for now.

Mind that similar looking siblings or parents and offspring do not necessarily imply that those traits shared are genetically stable. Just a few animals are way too few to determine the genotype of an individual. Equally, a sibling pair made of a red cow and a black bull does not imply that both inherit a well-marked sexual dimorphism. They are just two possible outcomes of genetically heterogeneous parents.

The breed identity of a pure founding individual is marked with a letter in brackets, H standing for Heck, C for Chianina, S for Sayaguesa and L for Lidia. Only those individuals whose deaths I know for sure have a †.

42 604, 79 289, 42 650 

Eloisa, Morena, Lusitana, Luca, Dona-Urraca, Lola: Matthias Scharf
Julia, Lamarck, Lirgit, 42 604, 79 289, 42 650: me
Mator, Lancelot: Either Margret Bunzel-Drüke or Matthias Scharf, I’m not sure.

Lancelot was a Heck breeding bull of Neandertal descend (Eiszeitliches Wildgehege Neandertal; a large-horned Heck cattle lineage; almost all founding Heck individuals of the Lippeaue were from the Neandertal). Mator was a Dutch Heck bull imported from Slikken van Flakkee. Both Lusitana and Lola are not present in the herd anymore, but I do not know if they are still alive or dead.
The sisters 42 604 and 79 289 look quite alike, but as I just outlined this does not necessarily imply they are homogeneous for those traits they share.


Besucona, Lucio, Limette, Sinnombre, Lombritz, Lani: Matthias Scharf
Nestor: Either Margret Bunzel-Drüke or Matthias Scharf
Laniana: me

Nestor was, as the “N” implies, born in the Neandertal and is the father of Lancelot. He is also the father of Lucio, a large Heck x Sayaguesa that left many descendants. Besucona was one of the ABU’s three Lidia cows. Lombritz was used as a breeding bull at Klostermersch-Süd until he died when he broke into the ice. Limette and Lani are not in the herds anymore, but I don’t know if they are used somewhere else or have died already.


Churro: Matthias Scharf
Laura, Larissa, Lena: me

Lena is the daughter of Larissa, which probably measures about 160cm at the withers and is their largest individual at the moment. The father, Churro, was a beautiful Sayaguesa bull that produced a lot of good-looking offspring.

Larwin, Liberta

Locusta, Leila, Lissy: Matthias Scharf
Larwin, Liberta: me

Morica was the only individual for which I was not able to find a photo, but I didn’t want to throw away the whole tree. The light colour of Locusta is very surprising for a half-Sayaguesa, but it seems that her father Lancelot carried some dilution in its genome (see the light brown colour) that might have left a mark in his daughter’s coat colour. Larwin was used as breeding bull at Disselmersch for a short time, but was slaughtered for his small head, long dewlap and heavy body. Liberta measures at least 153 cm at the shoulders, many of the other cows at Klostermersch-Süd are about the same size. Locusta, Leila and Lissy are not in the herds anymore, but I don’t know about their status.

01 862, Londo, 55 392

Aguaclara: Matthias Scharf
Londo: Margret Bunzel-Drüke
Lepisma, 84 024, 01 862, 55 392: me

Neither of those young unnamed bulls will be kept in the herd, but it was still interesting to show their ancestry, especially because 01 862 contains all four breeds. Londo is, for now, used as a breeding bull at Klostermersch-Süd despite its longish trunk and the small size. He resembles his father, which is larger and one of their best bulls.


  1. Hi Daniel,
    very nice work, I highly appreciate it!
    And of course the same goes for all of your posts. Especially in the nearer past, where they were, as I think, longer and contained more information and detail and therefore more work and research of yours.
    But I happened to notice one thing: According to your diagramm 42 604 and 79 289 are not sisters. I think perhaps you just missed to draw a line from Lamarck to 79 289.


    1. By crossing the lines, I intended to save some lines when showing siblings. The lines of Julia and Lamarck cross each other, and out of that combination two other lines emerge, namely 604 and 289. I did it the same way with Lamarck and 024, I thought it was apparent this way that they are siblings.

  2. Okay, my bad. As you already pointed it out in the text I clould've realised that you intended it that way.

  3. Excellent. I wished I could do that for the aurochsen in my neighbourhood

  4. Judging from the newly discovered Nei Genetic Distance I wonder if it makes sense to set up herds without Pajuna (Spain), Busha (Balcan) and perhaps even Fleckvieh (Alps). Those should be genetically as close as possible to the Auerochs and coming from different regions still offer a nice diversity. Add a bit of Watussi for the horns and Chianina to add size and you should get closer than any Heck influenced herd can.

    1. And probably Sayaguesa will be needed. For both, good genetic distance and good looks. It was surprising, that even Highlander was seemingly closer than even Chianina.

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    3. And I wonder how Fleckvieh can have a good Nei Genetical Distance while not being wild cattle at all. Genetics cannot lie, can they? I am referring to the Sichting Taurus Pdf from Rewildering Europe BTW.

    4. Without having read the paper that is still in prep, I can't say much to those maps and Nei distance calculations because the document Rewilding Europe has published lacks too much technical information for me. For genetic studies, its important to have concrete hard information at hand.