Aurochs Extinct Cattle Fun Facts

Auroch Skeleton The aurochs were a large species of cattle that stood nearly seven feet tall at the shoulder and had horns that could be almost three feet in length. The earliest known fossils of aurochs come from North Africa and India. During their time, they also spread West into Europe and East into Asia. They first emerged as a new species about two million years ago and went extinct in 1627 due to hunting by humans.

According to accounts written prior to the extinction of aurochs and recent evidence of preserved hair, it seems that male aurochs were dark brown or black with a gray or white stripe down their back. Calves were probably born with reddish-brown fur and females may have retained this coloration. Historical descriptions also mention aurochs having curly hair on their foreheads. Some accounts say that it is blond. This was probably a feature that emerged only after domestication.



Auroch SketchThe first record of aurochs domestication is from the New Stone Age in Mesopotamia. These aurochs gradually decreased in size. The aurochs were exported across North Africa and genetic evidence shows us that the modern European cattle are descended from these aurochs. European cattle and aurochs interbred while both were alive. While aurochs were spreading throughout North and Northeast Africa via humans, they were also moving East and West on their own during interglacial periods. The first domestication in India happened around this time, as well.



Full Auroch SkeletonThe aurochs in the wild lived in areas that were filled with dense woodland but the aurochs were likely to have preferred open grassy areas where they could graze. Their diet was probably similar to that of modern domestic cattle, comprised mainly of grasses, nuts, and twigs. Calves may have been in danger of predation from wolves or lions, but healthy adult aurochs probably were large and fast enough to evade any potential predators.

There has been interest in bringing the aurochs back over the past 200 years. In the 1920s, experiments were made with several different breeds of cattle. The resulting hybrid is called the Heck cattle, after Heinz Heck, who conducted the project. The idea has lost traction over time, as populations of Heck cattle are unstable and require more food than can be provided naturally.


Personalize a gift for someone special at no additional cost from Zazzle.  The below banner contains an affiliate link for which we might earn a small referral.

Home + Pets


If you have any requests or questions, please feel free to leave them in a comment below. You can stay up to date with our blog on our Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. We publish a new blog about animals, fossils, or art every Tuesday and Friday, so until next time, thank you for reading and goodbye!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.