Sunday, 7 July 2019

New Auerrind herd, with photos!

The Auerrind project announced the start of a new breeding herd in Frankenstein, Germany (yes, there is a village called Frankenstein) this week. It is composed of the Watussi x Maremmana cow, a young Sayaguesa x Chianina bull, and two Tauros cows from the Netherlands. 

Here are some photos: 
© Auerrind project
Watussi x Maremmana cow © Auerind project
Sayaguesa x Chianina + the half-Watussi cow © Auerrind project
It is very interesting to see these two individuals growing. The Watussi influence in the cow shows rather strongly (which is not a bad thing considering it is an F1), partly possibly also because Podolian cattle have massive zebuine influence anyway. The colour is good and the horns will surely grow very large. The Sayaguesa x Chianina bull seems to have a diluted colour (the phenotype of an F1 is, from the technical view, not relevant for further breeding on qualitative traits). Bulls of this combinations show all possible colour variants between almost white and perfectly aurochs-like, which is peculiar considering that both parental breeds have a uniform phenotype (my possible explanation is that Chianina might not be all homozygous on the diluting loci despite its uniform phenotype, but that is only a suspicion). 

A robust aurochs

It often happens that my aurochs reconstructions might turn out a bit too lightweight. I always use original skeletons for the proportions, but I think it is possible that I underestimate the amount of soft tissue on the skeleton for fully grown adult aurochs. So also in my new aurochs model. It should be anatomically correct as it is based on multiple specimen, but it might be a bit too gracile on the soft tissue anatomy for a fully grown bull. 

So I took one of the photos of the model, tracked it out and finally did a truly massive aurochs specimen as far as the skeleton allows, and used extant wild bovines, especially wisent, as an analogue. This is the result: 

I think that fully grown, old and solitary aurochs bulls might have looked like this. There is an Italian cro-magnon stone carving that might show such a bull, which is portrayed as a pretty robust specimen (here). 

I think that an aurochs skeleton does not allow much more mass. The model is based mainly on the Sassenberg bull, which is described as an almost senile specimen because of its extensive tooth wear. So fully grown aurochs probably did not get much more massive than that, it simply was a comparably gracile species apparently.