Saturday, 1 April 2017

A is for Aurochs …



Our domestic cattle are descended from Aurochs … the large wild Aurochs inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, surviving until 1627 … the last recorded one died in Jaktorow Forest, Poland.


Auroch - comparison of size with human
In Britain Auroch bones are found in various places … they were around before the last ice age – 40,000 – 30,000 years ago – then life as we might have known it had died as nothing could live through the peak of the ice ages …




Kents Cavern, Torquay, south Devon
Kents Cavern, Torquay, Devon is about to release new scientific evidence on Aurochs, other ancient animals and late Neanderthals with early modern human remains in undisturbed cave sediments …


An image of the possible land bridge
- the Dogger Bank is off Hapsburgh,
which is a very shallow part of the North Sea,
was also connected to northern Europe



Caves provided a natural shelter, and there would have been a great deal of day to day activity … but the climate was volatile … and while the grassland bridge existed between Britain and northern Europe … species retreated southwards.





Those animals that did not escape … went to sleep and never woke … as nature overtook them.  Evidence of Brown Bears, Woolly Mammoths, Woolly Rhinoceros, Cave Lion, Sabre-Tooth Tiger,Wolves, Reindeer, Bison and others … have been found throughout the UK and Europe …


A prized Ayrshire Cow
(historic county in south-west Scotland)
But some animals in due course, around 12,000 years ago, returned when the land bridge was still in place - before the English Channel had been formed by the glacial flood waters, and from these we have some of our native breeds …



That is A for Awe Inspiring Aurochs … Animals Aspiring to survive in Ice Age Britain … from Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …


Counties – with the letter A …
(note some Counties have been retired!, or amended over historical local government … but some I’ve included)

England:  Avon
Northern Ireland:  Antrim; Armagh
Scotland:  Aberdeenshire; Angus; Argyll; Ayrshire
Wales:  Anglesey


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


72 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

A is for amazing.
I am looking forward to your take on this meme. Big time.

Denise Covey said...

Never heard this before Hilary. Aurochs. You are the great enlightener~ :-)

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

The mighty Auroch - what a great way to start the challenge. All the little details are wonderful, thank you.
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

Laura Clipson said...

This is so interesting, thanks for sharing!

Sophie Duncan said...

When we look at geological time, 12000 years ago sounds not very much, but so much happened in that time.
Really interesting, thanks,
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

Nilanjana Bose said...

Absolutely Awesome! Never knew domestic cattle descended from Aurochs. Your post reminded me of the series by Jean Auel - Earth's Children? can't recall the title exactly, but based in the Ice Age or thereabouts...have you read her?

Totally floored by your starting post :) edutainment per excellence as usual.

See you soon.
Nila.
Madly-in-Verse
Theme : Arabiana

Keith's Ramblings said...

How on earth do you know all this? You never cease to amaze me with your enlightening posts, and this is a great start to the A-Z.

Click HERE to read my 200-word tale

Eva A. said...

I'm amazed by the theme you chose. Also by aurochs.

Eva
Mail Adventures

Vinodini Iyer said...

This is the first time I have heard about this animal. The world is full of so many hidden surprises to be discovered. Thanks for sharing.
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Vinodini

http://ifsbutsandsetcs.com

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

What a fantastic theme, and the Aurochs are awe inspiring!

Funny, the dutch word for the ancestors of cattle is oeros. When you say that it sounds alike :)

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ Good luck on the rest of your A to Z challenge

Sylvia @ The Creative Life

Susan Scott said...

A for amazing Aurochs - thank you Hilary. From an ancient age indeed!

Sharon M Himsl said...

New to me too, and as big as a moose. Not your typical cow! You picked a great theme!

A Heron's View said...

When discussing Aurochs and comparing them with average size of humans. One must consider that people were on average a lot shorter 2000 years ago approx 5ft 1" than today's people.

The largest domestic cattle to day are Chianina bulls which have reached truly outstanding sizes of 1700 kgs in weight, with a height of two meters at the withers; - cows: 800-900 kgs and weight can often go as high as 1000 kgs - thus most likely closely related to an Auroch.

suesconsideredtrifles said...

Strange how the same piece of information crops up twice in as many days. The land-link to Europe is mentioned in The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane, which I have just started reading.
Sue from Sue’s Trifles

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – they were such an interesting ancestral animal – they are finding out more and more about them – science really does unlock doors to new ideas …

@ Denise – I suspect the other B-Zs you’ll mostly have heard of … A for Aurochs was an easy start …

@ Tasha – yes it was mighty – think of that lumbering down the street …

@ Laura – glad you enjoyed …

@ Sophie – I know geological time is enormous … and the creation of the English Channel happened a pin prick of time ago and as you say so much has happened since …

@ Nila – it’s fascinating to learn where our breeds come from. Someone else (a couple of years ago) mentioned Jean Auel and her Earth children … so I’m aware – am not sure if I got her book though – must look and have noted …

@ Keith – the brain works in a self-learning mode –then you get to be guinea pigs as I post!! - but I’m delighted you are enlightened …

@ Eva – thanks so much … the theme popped up as something different and Aurochs reared their heads into the A post

@Vinodini – it’s probably not that well known now – but they enjoy visiting life again! Am happy you have discovered Aurochs here …

@ Sylvia – many thanks … the theme idea interested me and then I ‘searched’ … Your “oeros” I gather mean aurochs in Dutch … so the origin must be similar – and it is … from a German base.

@ Susan – yes these are somewhat older than the cattle we presently have around us …

@ Sharon – yes as big as a moose – and they are large creatures – no not a typical cow … they arrive on Tuesday!

@ Mel – yes I know we were much smaller … and I could put so much more into the post … but a little is enough for the A-Z and I don’t stretch myself too much!

Chianina bulls and cattle are a wonderful breed of Italian cattle I hadn’t come across … but I specifically restrained myself to the boundaries of our little union of islands. Thanks for telling us about them …

@ Sue – oh that often happens doesn’t it – fascinating that you read about the land-link to Europe back at the end of the Ice Age … Enjoy Robert Macfarlane’s “The Old Ways” – sounds interesting …

Thanks everyone so much – good to see you … cheers and enjoy your weekends … Hilary

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I never did any research, but I'm embarrassed to admit that I thought Aurochs were mythical creatures.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

The horns on the Auroch look intimidating! Wonder if they had the same calm temperament as today's cattle?

M. Denise C. said...

Of course I have never even heard of Aurochs! I know I am going to learn much from you this April, Hilary!

Bob Scotney said...

Fantastic theme, Hilary. Great start to Challenge again. I'm already guessing at what's coming up.

nashvillecats2 said...

Thanks Hilary through this post I've learned something about our English cattle. Made interesting reading.
Good luck with the challenge.

Yvonne.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Aurochs? You never cease to amaze and educate me, Hilary. I wonder what sound they made? Not MOO I am sure!!

cleemckenzie said...

These were one sturdy group of beasts. I'm trying imagine how it was in that ice age when the struggle to survive had to make competition for food and shelter all-consuming. Wonderful theme, Hilary. But I'd expect no less here. Good luck. I'm in the cheering section this year.

Sara C. Snider said...

I had heard of Aurochs but I'm not sure I connected them with an actual animal rather than mythical creature. So, that's good to know! ;) I sometimes wonder what our world would look like now had so many animals not died out during the ice age.

Laurel Garver said...

I wonder if these ancient bovines were as mellow tempered as domestic cattle or more tough and aggressive. Those horns sure look like they'd do serious damage.

Deborah Weber said...

I'm so delighted by the topic of your challenge posts Hilary. And this was a fabulous start. I'd never even heard of Aurochs before. It always feels so expansive when something new needs to find room in my brain and worldview.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ CD – I’d come across Aurochs in my journey of life – so was pleased to be able to write a little about them …

@ Elizabeth – it seems they had their moments … cows and bulls fought – presumably when life demanded it … cows at times can get angry and fight now – eg when they’re disturbed or encroached upon …

@ Denise – oh well this is an enlightening post for you too … good to see you …

@ Bob – I sincerely hope it continues to match up … it will be interesting to see if you guess right … some you will – some you won’t!!

@ Yvonne – thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy the posts …

@ Roland – well I never thought I’d give you something you didn’t know about … I suspect they went AOEIUuuuuuu across the plains of Ice Age Europe!

@ Lee – it is so difficult to imagine what life would have been like all those millennia ago – and which creatures or early creatures would have been around … lovely to see a cheering fan – thank you!

@ Sara – I found it wonderful that they’d lived until the 1600s … so we can find out something more about them – and yes what would the world look like if the Ice Age hadn’t occurred – but that’s part of our natural world …

@ Laurel – it sounds like they’re similar to our cows and bulls today – we know bulls can be bad tempered, but so can cows if they are imposed up … and those horns do look fairly ‘nasty’ don’t they …

@ Deborah – many thanks … it’s an interesting theme I have chosen, but am glad it’s proving a happy decision. I think we probably know about Aurochs from the cave paintings … and the archaeology …

Glad your brain has something new to consider!

Thanks so much to you all for visiting – I’m delighted the mighty Auroch is proving such a hit … cheers to everyone - Hilary

Jo said...

I had forgotten about the land bridge before the existence of the English Channel. I am surprised therefore to read about such ancient animal remains being found in the UK. I always think of The Clan of the Cave Bear where they used aurochs horns to carry fire when travelling or moving.

bazza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bazza said...

Presumably all our modern breeds have descended from Auruchs rather than being a split from another common ancestor. I suppose it's similar to the way in which modern domestic dogs are all descended from wolves, although dogs are all of the same species. I find evolution and genetics a fascinating subject and I've read lots; Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker is a great introduction to the subject!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Jacqui Murray said...

That was fascinating. I have read that species don't survive much more than 2 million years. It's easy to understand why when you go through the environmental changes that Aurochs had to adapt to or die out.

Nick Wilford said...

Aurochs - amazing how I've never heard of them considering they led to one of the most integral parts of the world's food chain. Can't wait for the rest of the posts.

Jemima Pett said...

A great post, Hilary. The size of the Aurochs in your photo seems similar to the Indian Gaur, and now I can't remember whether I've got that one's name right. Oh, yes, I have - I googled it :) A fantastic beast, in every sense!

Jemima Pett with a guest Astronaut!

John Holton said...

That's some big cattle there. Good start to the challenge!

John Holton
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
The Sound Of One Hand Typing

Rebecca Douglass said...

That's cool! I like the photos, too. I'm a sucker for cool pictures of places and things I've not seen (okay, I have been to Devonshire, but it was a long, long time ago, and it was raining).

Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

Rhodesia said...

Once again I have learnt much from you Hilary. You are a specialist at digging up history and information. Well done. Keep well Diane

Michelle Wallace said...

Thanks for the lesson.
I've never heard of an Auroch which appears huge next to man in the illustration above.
I wonder to what extent they were domesticated...or were they totally wild back then?

Leslie Moon said...

It's amazing when you think about the animals that survived/ evolved and those that did . Great start for A to Z. I'm learning alot (already) this time around.
Thanks for your kind visit.

Cheers.

Join @moondustwriter for A Piece of Uganda

Fil said...

I always thought Aurochs were mythological creatures - how wonderful to hear they were real. Brilliant start to the A to Z Hilary. I'm not taking part this year but looking forward to following along as a reader.
Fil

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting! Knew nothing about aurochs before.

Lenny Lee said...

hi grandblogmom! you're off and running with the A-Z challenge. what an interesting post. i never heard of aurochs before. makes me wonder where the cattle in the states is descended from. thanks for the information. your posts are always so cool.

Jean Davis said...

That is a very big cow with deadly looking horns. Glad they came back because I really like a good steak. :)
Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

DMS said...

I learned a lot here today. I knew a little about aurochs, but didn't know as much about the background of these large animals as I discovered today. So interesting. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck with A-Z. :)
~Jess

Christine O Cheallaigh said...

Wow! I'd never heard of Aurochs before, thanks for the info! You truly do learn something new every day...at least, I usually manage to.

Here's my take on the challenge:

LINK

Courtney Turner said...

Cool, I've been reading about neolithic settlements in the Orkney Islands, but I think the aurochs disappeared before then. Maui Jungalow

Rhonda Albom said...

I have never heard of these animals before. I can see the similarity to modern cattle. I am surprised at their transformation in only 30,000-40,000 years.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jo – the land bridge isn’t easy to forget living on the edge of the English Channel now – and opens up history thoughts all the time for me. The Clan of the Cave Bear is a Jean Auel book, which Nila reminded me about in an earlier comment. I haven’t read the book –and obviously should. Interesting about them using auroch horns to carry fire …

@ Bazza – from what I noted yesterday when checking something else out – there are two distinct lines… one Asian (Zebu) and one Western (taurine cattle). I‘ve done quite a comprehensive post on dogs – fascinating evolutionary development … I haven’t read The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins … and will add to my list … thanks …

@ Jacqui – I don’t know how long species survive … there’ve been some pretty big upheavals on the earth … and as you say so many environmental changes too …

@ Nick – yes Aurochs really started off the domestication of the bovine species … and there were other wild species that developed slightly differently … see my reply to Jemima below:

@ Jemima – you had got your Gaur right … and this was another of the wild bovine species that developed slightly different characteristics … and both (or all) are fantastic beasts in every sense.

@ John – they are ‘some large cattle’ aren’t they …

@ Rebecca – I usually (always) add photos to my blog posts … seems to give the subject more resonance … and Devon is a beautiful county –

@ Diane – that’s great … I aim to entertain – with some light thoughts on history et al …

@ Michelle – Aurochs were wild, but they and other bovine species over the millennia had been domesticated … in various parts of the world … distinct species occurring …

@ Leslie – your posts on Uganda are going to be so interesting too … and yes the way life in all its forms has developed is fascinating isn’t it …

@ Fil – nope … they be real critters! It’ll be good to see you following along …

@ Anabel – I’m sure Auroch bones have been found in some of Scotland’s deep caves … along with plenty of other ancient creatures …

@ Lenny – so good to see you and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Christopher Columbus took Spanish Longhorn cattle over to the States and there would have been wild cattle too – the bison etc so species would have arisen out of these cross breeding … and other European ones would have been brought over … the human does mix and match!

@ Jean – yes they were some large species weren’t they – and a good steak occasionally does no-one any harm …

@ Jess – glad you enjoyed the post and the small amount of edutainment here …

@ Christine – yes there’s always more to learn isn’t there … good to meet you in the A-Z …

@ Courtney – oh how interesting you’ve been reading about the Neolithic settlements in the Orkney Islands … I’m not sure Aurochs would have survived long on those islands … so you’re right there – they’d have stayed in Scotland longer …

@ Rhonda – there were and are lots of sub-species … the cattle would have been evolving – and I’m only referring to Britain here … migration to more suitable climes was always going on as the earth itself evolved …

Thanks so much for all your comments – glad the Aurochs have interested you … cheers and onwards to B on Monday … cheers Hilary

FinnBadger said...

Fascinating. I had no idea the aurochs was still around up to the 1600s.

Phillip | A is for artistamps

Murees Dupé said...

I learned something new. It would have been awesome to have seen the Aurochs
still roaming around.

Lancelot Quadras said...

This is an amazing find.
I'm so glad to have read this!
Cheers to the survivors!

Emily Bloomquist said...

Thanks for teaching me something new today! I knew nothing about Aurochs previously.

Emily | My Life In Ecuador

Stephen Tremp said...

Cool post. I can see how caves would be a treasure trove for bones and such from animals from that time. We have the La Brea tar pits that captured all kinds of animals like whooly mammoths and sabre toothed tigers.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Finn – many thanks and good to meet you over at your blog artistamps …

@ Murees – it’d have been a rather large shock to see an auroch wandering around some of the English lanes …

@ Lancelot – good to meet you here and I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed the read …

@ Emily – that’s a pleasure … I enjoy passing ‘new’ information on for my blogging friends …

@ Stephen – thanks … lots of treasure trove in ancient caves … amazing what we’re still finding hidden away … yes woolly mammoths and sabre tooth tigers – you’d never think we had those wandering around our countryside … thankfully not today!

Cheers to you all – lovely having you here … and see you next week too - Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love learning things like this. I grew up on a dairy farm and the breeding was important. Those aurochs must have been frightening to hunt with spears or whatever.

bookworm said...

Thank you for visiting my blog - I am interested in history,ancient and modern, and will be stopping by again. There are some serious efforts to "de extinct" the woolly mammoths (there is actually a hope they can help with global warming damage in the Arctic) - I had only known Aurochs through reading about cave paintings - just think, maybe one day they can again exist in our world. The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogsot.com

Nas said...

What an interesting subject, though I had never heard of this! Thanks Hilary for the enlightenment!

Ann Bennett said...

You definitely get the Gold Star for the most fascinating post. Aurochs, I had recently read of ancient herd of cattle in England. So much to learn and know, I hope to visit England in the next few years. My mother told me she felt like she was home when she went. It seemed so familiar.

Heather M. Gardner said...

That's awesome!
Great start!

Heather
Co-Host, 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
https://hmgardner.blogspot.com/

Betsy Brock said...

How very interesting! I've never even heard of Aurochs! But not being around since the 1600's may explain things. haha.

beste barki said...

Hilary, I have been reading here and there that, some farmers working with scientists, are bringing back the Aurochs.

Liz A. said...

I had never heard of aurochs. Thanks for the education.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan – so at least being a farming child you’d understand the size of the aurochs … cows can be big!

@ Bookworm – that’s good to see you and to read that you enjoy history in all forms. Yes they are trying to bring back to life some of the ancient breeds. I didn’t know that part about woolly mammoths helping with global warming damage in the Arctic) … whether they’ll be allowed to roam free again – I feel is somewhat doubtful … but! We never know ..

@ Nas – the Auroch is part of our domestic food chain …

@ Ann – many thanks … I learn too! You’ll come across your cattle probably in the C for Cow post. I hope you can get over ... and I know what your mother experienced … we ‘come home’ …

@ Heather – thanks

@ Betsy – no we weren’t around in the 1600s were we … so much change ..

@ Beste – they are certainly looking at bringing aurochs and other species back to life – if all things can be accomplished –

@ Liz – they found the Aurochs in cave paintings and their bones in caves …

Thanks everyone – so good to meet new friends and see ‘old faces!’ … cheers and ever onwards down the ABCs … Hilary

Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar said...

This is a huge learning for me. I'd never even heard of aurochs before. How strange that some animals slept and never woke up and others went on to sire the bovines we have around today.

Muy interesante!

Cynthia at Boketto and Bohni: Exotic Words with no English Equivalent

Christine Rains said...

What an awesome way to start off the challenge. Who knew that cattle could be such hardy creatures.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Cynthia - I'm glad you're here and are happy to see you're interested. Well when it's so cold (ice age cold) we'd all go to sleep and not wake up either ... other creatures in warmer climes were able to breed and keep the species alive.

@ Christine - the early bovines and other similar early creatures gave us our species -for which thank goodness I think.

Cheers to you both - Hilary

quietspirit said...

Hilary, Thank you for the lesson on the animals and the bridge between the British Isles and the continent. I alway wondered about the Channel.

diedre Knight said...

How interesting! Leapin lizards - you had some really big cows. If only the Ice age had been kinder, or given them a clue as to how to survive. A grassland bridge sounds fascinating - as all of your descriptions are ;-)

Arlee Bird said...

As always I have come here and learned something completely new to me. Never heard of these critters before.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Arleen - yes the Channel being gouged out after the Ice Age from a deluge of melt water is probably a blessing for us! And has provided different species for us here - I have written about the Channel a few times on the blog if you want to check it out.

@ Diedre - those huge cows were around the world, well the Asian-European continent ... just things need to evolve to survive. The grassland bridge is similar to where I am now I guess - just the English Channel has cut through! I'm glad I don't have to walk to Paris though!

@ Lee - many thanks ... you know me I enjoy edutaining .. a word coined by someone very recently!

Cheers to you all and thanks for visiting ... Hilary

Paula Kaye said...

Your blog always educates me!!

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, fascinating!

Lynn said...

I'm late to the party, but love the subject you have chosen! I look forward to all the posts!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Paula - thank you ... so pleased to know ...

@ Deniz - life is interesting isn't it - big beasts especially ...

@ Lynn - no worries everyone welcome late or on time! That's great you'll be reading the other posts - thank you

Cheers to you three - Hilary