Friday, 13 July 2018

Transforming Leo into an aurochs

Some weeks ago, Claus Kropp published a photo of the young Sayaguesa bull Leo on facebook:
Sayaguesa bull Leo © Claus Kropp

Leo is from one of the best, if not the best, Sayaguesa herds that I have seen so far owned by Peter van Genejgen. Body shape, horn shape and skull shape are superb, the colour is good as well. The herd is slightly influenced by Alistana-Sanabresa, resulting in some reddish cows, giving the illusion of improved sexual dichromatism but bulls from the herd may happen to have a colour saddle (see here). For the European aurochs, there is only evidence for solidly black bulls. Leo has a colour saddle too, however, it still is a very beautiful bull and I think among the best Sayaguesa bulls I have seen. See his elongated head on this photo by Claus Kropp. When judging the body shape, keep in mind that it is still a young bull, it continue to gain weight while its skeleton will finish growing at the age of six years.

The beauty of the bull and the photo inspired me to do another photo manipulation. I took the photo and edited it using GIMP, trying to transform it into what I imagine a European aurochs bull to have looked like. Here is the result (as it is based on a photo by Claus Kropp, I asked if it was ok to present it here):
I changed nothing about the proportions, head size or head shape. I think they are pretty aurochs-like in the original already. I enhanced the morphology of the trunk: the hump had to be enlarged, and I gave it a more slender waist in order to achieve a more wild cattle-like morpology. Also I removed the colour saddle, as there is only evidence for black bulls in Europe and I am not convinced that there were European aurochs bulls with a colour saddle (see here). I removed the original horns and painted aurochs horns. I could have also reduced the length of the dewlap, but I was not sure. For comparison, here is an animated GIF composed of the original Sayaguesa bull and the "aurochs":

As you see, Leo is not that far removed from the goal. I am sure that many of his offspring will resemble the aurochs to a large extent by domestic cattle standards.


  1. Hi Daniel,
    A quick question; would you have an idea of the average height of mature bulls from this herd?
    Regards, David

    1. No but since Leo is about the same size as the Chianina cows, he might be between 160-165 cm tall at the shoulders. So perhaps its male half-Chianina offspring might reach or even surpass 170cm.

  2. A great size! Once the horns catch up by whatever method and time scale and the coat colour is slightly tweaked we will almost be there!

    1. Indeed, that's why I think that the Auerrind project has the potential to produce some really good quality individuals quite quick. A 75% Sayaguesa 25% Watussi might already have a high optical match with the goal.