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Resurrecting extinct ox by back breeding – how’s that coming?

File:Lascaux painting.jpg
Lascaux rendering of aurochs/Prof saxx

From Daily Mail:

Ecologists, historians and geneticists from the TaurOs Programme hope to recreate the auroch by crossbreeding, or ‘back breeding’ modern cattle.

Unlike in the work to resurrect the woolly mammoth, there is no need to use ancient DNA from well-preserved remains.

Instead, the scientists identified ‘primitive’ breeds of cattle that share characteristics with their auroch ancestors, such as a tall and athletic build, long legs and forward curling horns to recapture the animal’s original purpose- to graze large areas of wilderness.

They began the back breeding programme using seven varieties of cattle in 2009 and progress is being made. More.

Interestingly, writer Sarah Griffiths is not throwing the word “species” around wildly.

Good thing, because the best interpretation of what happened is that the wild variety of the animal died out, leaving only the descendant varieties resulting from human breeding efforts.

It will be interesting to see if that qualification impacts the success of the bolder efforts currently underway, such as resurrecting mastodons and mammoths.

ginkgo biloba from Eocene

It’s an interesting case of domestication preserving a life form that would otherwise have likely gone extinct.

Ginkgo biloba in Belgium today/Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

It’s likely that Cretaceous tree gingko biloba was saved in a similar way, as it was cultivated for millennia in Eastern Asia, for medicinal purposes.

See also: “Speciation” means what exactly? No one can define it but it is the basis of Darwinian evolution.

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