History & Reproduction

Life History

Bos primigenius, commonly known as aurochs, are possible decendents of Bos acutifrons approximately two million years ago.  The species originated in India and are thought to have spread to Europe from a southern route.  After spreading throughout Europe and current Russia, they appeared in Spain (700,000 years ago).  Most aurochs were located in Germany, where they were first found 275,000 years ago.  The last living populations of Bos primigenius were found in Poland and in 1627, the last population of wild aurochs died (Vuure, 2003).  Humans were the main cause of extinction of the Bos primigenius.  Aurochs were a food source for humans, and so they were a targeted hunt.  Also, they became extinct because of cattle diseases, being hunted, the development of farming caused a lessening of available land, climate changes, and food competition with the domesticated cattle (Mensvoort, 2010).

Figure 1. Known locations of Bos Primigenius according to historical records. Image from Maas, P.H.J. (2011).


Aurochs participated in sexual reproduction with a bull (male) and a cow (female).  They had internal reproduction. Reproduction occurred during a particular period of time for the Bos primigenius.  Typically, this time was in the late summer.  Calves were born in the following late spring (Maas, 2011). Spring births were beneficial because the calves then had all summer to be able to grow and develop before having to deal with a harsh winter.   Spring births also allowed for the calves to be able to develop a strong immune system to fight off diseases and infections that could occur in the winter months (Maas, 2011).  Another animal that give birth in the spring is the Eastern Gorilla. To learn more about this organism click here. This type of sexual reproduction has historical records in Poland, where head counts of the Aurochs occurred in the early 1600s.

Now I bet you are wondering what other organisms did the Aurochs have contact with. Well you are in luck! Follow the link on the bottom to the interactions page to find out what other organisms the wonderful animal had contact with.









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