The BEST Guide to POLAND
Unanswered  |  Archives 
 
 
User: Guest

Home / History  % width posts: 48

Aurochs, the primitive prehistoric cattle of Europe, had lived in Poland?


frankdom 5 | 8
3 Mar 2013  #1
I was reviewing a book written by a Dutch wildlife writer about the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria and he stated that there is a Dutch-funded scheme (ARK) to stock these mountains with a type of cattle which is genetically related to the ancient aurochs, the primitive prehistoric cattle of Europe. This is interesting but what was more interesting was to find out that these aurochs had apparently lived in Poland as late as the 1920s. I had no idea about this. Do any members know anything about it? Where did they live? Were they hunted to extinction or...?

I have put his question in the History Forum because there is no forum for nature and natural history. This is certainly not a question for Tourism Forum as the animals do not exist anymore...though perhaps there is some genetic link in some modern Polish cattle?

It is rather surprising as well that the European bison is still 'going strong (?) in Poland. It must be under a lot of pressure with habitat change. Writing this makes me think of the buffalo grass vodka....wish I had a bottle..

Frank O'Reilly
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
3 Mar 2013  #2
The last Tur died in 1627, he got them confused with Żubr (European bison) which was very close to extinction in 1920's.
Paulina 9 | 1,451
3 Mar 2013  #3
Grzegorz is right. From a horn of one of the last aurochs which died in a Polish wildland a hunting horn was made as a gift for a king of Poland, Sigismund III Vasa, with an inscription: "A horn of the last of the aurochs from Puszcza Sochaczewska from rawski voivode Stanisław Radziejowski, at present time sochaczewski starost. 1620."

róg tura
1jola 14 | 1,879
3 Mar 2013  #4
It was looted by the Swedes, and you can see it in Stokholm. Plundering and looting is not the same as taking war trophies, and the Swedes were worse than Goering and the Soviets in that respect. I don't want to ruin this interesting thread, but if you look into today's Sweden and their refusal to return many museum pieces, all respect for them wanes. They behave today like Viking barbarians they were. Perhaps another thread though.

Polish scientists have been working on bringing back the extinct species for seven years now, and believe they can do it.

Aurochs will be restored by scientists. They may settle in Podlasie

Can we meet aurochs in our forests? - If it were not such a chance, I wouldn't try it - says Professor Richard Słomski, who is working on restoring extinct species. The foresters liked the idea of reviving the historical king of the forest . It would be a major tourist attraction.

No one has seen aurochs in Polish forests for almost 400 years. How they looked like, you can specify only basing on the preserved descriptions, drawings and wall murals. On this basis, it can be assumed that they were a huge animals. For example, Julius Caesar wrote: "The dimensions? They are only a little bit smaller than an elephant."

poranny.pl/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120218/MAGAZYN/409243339

Interesting that the species survived the longest in Poland as it was protected. Pretty novel for 17th century.

Tur is present in Polish literature and heraldry. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs

Must say, had no idea about this.
Paulina 9 | 1,451
3 Mar 2013  #5
Polish scientists have been working on bringing back the extinct species for seven years now, and believe they can do it.

That would be interesting.

Interesting that the species survived the longest in Poland as it was protected. Pretty novel for 17th century.

Actually, according to Wikipedia, aurochs were protected in Poland since the beginning of the 15th century.
Pretty cool :)

Must say, had no idea about this.

Me neither, probably. I've read about them only because they were mentioned in "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin and since I was reading it in English I had to look up in the dictionary what those aurochs were :)
OP frankdom 5 | 8
3 Mar 2013  #6
Thanks to you all. I had no idea that my query about aurochs (Polish=tur?) would bring such a lot of interesting responses. 1jola should not be concerned that the did not know the word 'auroch', as I guess most English-speaking natives don't know this word. That 'Game of Thrones' sounds interesting...what is it about? Re the aurochs it would seem then that that they have been extinct throughout Europe, since 16th century (could any have survived in Siberia for eg) and therefore it is puzzliing how that Dutch scientist could find auroch genetic material in modern day cattle.

I agree that the theme of looted treasure is another thread...and a very worthwhile one at that. But when did the Swedes do all this plundering? Was it in the religious wars of Europe (is it called Thirty Years War?) when Catholic and Protestant princes fought it out and, I believe, the Swedes invaded Northern Poland?

frankdom
Paulina 9 | 1,451
3 Mar 2013  #7
Thanks to you all.

You're welcome :)

1jola should not be concerned that the did not know the word 'auroch', as I guess most English-speaking natives don't know this word.

It was me, not 1jola, and I wasn't concerned, I always look up words I don't know when I read books in English ;)

That 'Game of Thrones' sounds interesting...what is it about?

It's the first volume of the so called "epic fantasy" best-selling series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin. HBO adapted it into successful television series:

youtube.com/watch?v=XfAE3hIaPm4

There's another extinct animal in those books (and TV series), not only mentioned, but a pet of the main characters - a dire wolf (Canis dirus) and it's the sigil of their House.

Re the aurochs it would seem then that that they have been extinct throughout Europe, since 16th century (could any have survived in Siberia for eg)

Aurochs became extinct first in the Western Europe. By the 13th century, the aurochs' range was restricted to Poland, Lithuania, Moldavia, Transylvania and East Prussia. The last auroch in Bavaria died in 1470. The last auroch in Poland died, as Grzegorz already mentioned, in 1627.

I don't know whether they were ever present in Siberia.

and therefore it is puzzliing how that Dutch scientist could find auroch genetic material in modern day cattle.

I have no idea, I'm not a geneticist. But isn't the auroch the ancestor of domestic cattle?

I agree that the theme of looted treasure is another thread...and a very worthwhile one at that. But when did the Swedes do all this plundering

During what Poles call "the Swedish Deluge":
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluge_%28history%29
Rysavy 10 | 308
3 Mar 2013  #8
there also was interesting links and this subject in 'animals in poland thread'... Bos were an interest of mine so I asked about them :)

This thread should probably be merged with that one
Ill rez teh thread
Paulina 9 | 1,451
3 Mar 2013  #9
Was it in the religious wars of Europe (is it called Thirty Years War?) when Catholic and Protestant princes fought it out and, I believe, the Swedes invaded Northern Poland?

Btw, officially the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth didn't take part in the Thirty Years' War. The Polish king sent once companies of elears (Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth light cavalry) to draw away Protestant troops from besieged Vienna and it looks like that was it.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
3 Mar 2013  #10
Re the aurochs it would seem then that that they have been extinct throughout Europe,

In most of Europe they became extinct in 10th-14th century, the last ones lived in Poland, in Mazovia, since 15th century they were under protection of Mazovia's prince and later of Polish king, their last major habitat was even turned into a kind of national park, however the population was already very small, it was decimated by diseases transmitted by domestic cattle, the last one died in 1627.

Some kinds of domestic cattle are quite closely related to aurochs. Germans and Dutch have been trying to bring it back by breeding the ones that resamble aurochs the most, however it's not a real auroch.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs#Breeding_of_aurochs-like_cattle
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heck_cattle
G (undercover)
17 Sep 2017  #11
Merged:

Nazis killed a Żubr.



And now they are going to... eat him during a public event...

wiadomosci.wp.pl/jak-skonczy-zastrzelony-przez-niemcow-polski-zubr-trzeba-powiedziec-ze-sa-praktyczni-6167147181778561a

RIP
Roger5 1 | 1,458
18 Sep 2017  #12
The aurochs appears in red in the town crest of Bielsk Podlaski in eastern Poland. The main reason they became extinct is probably because they didn't fear humans and, unlike the European bison, were not aggressive, so they were very easy to hunt.

On Saturday I'll be showing some visiting Americans around the bison reserve near Bialowieza. I always look forward to seeing the Zubron there. Now that is a strange beast.
mafketis 19 | 6,878
18 Sep 2017  #13
he main reason they became extinct is probably because they didn't fear humans and, unlike the European bison, were not aggressive, so they were very easy to hunt.

I lurve aurochs and am happy about plans to revive them from extinction. To be sure, we'll all probably regret it once they start trampling Polish cities underneath their mighty hooves, but we've all gotta go sometime and perishing in an auroch stampede is not the worst way...

cdn.modernfarmer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Aurochss3.jpg
kaprys 2 | 1,668
18 Sep 2017  #14
I have seen zubrons once in the natural reserve in Białowieża. I don't know but they looked kind of miserable ...
As for reviving the auruch, the first thing that comes to my mind is Heck. And when I think of Heck, I remember what he did to the Warsaw Zoo.

Perhaps, we should focus more on taking care of what we still have rather than playing with genetics.
CasualObserver
18 Sep 2017  #15
were not aggressive

Aurochs had a reputation for being extremely aggressive and dangerous.

It is impossible to 'back breed' aurochs from modern cattle, as they are not the same thing. The Heck brothers tried and failed, because it's impossible to unravel the genetics. It's like trying to back-breed an ape from a human. The only way you could recreate Aurochs is to clone them genetically.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
18 Sep 2017  #16
I'd be interested in your source for your assertion, ca.
Kaprys, absolutely agree.
CasualObserver
18 Sep 2017  #17
Well, back breeding is long known to be hogwash. It's just impossible. You can select for something that might look a bit like you think an aurochs might look, but it will never be an aurochs because it has a completely different genotype.

There was actually a TV show about all this in the UK, especially the Heck brothers attempts to breed Aurochs from domestic cattle, and release them in Bialowieza. Steve Jones puts it best and most clearly "you can fool yourself...but it aint an aurochs!" (about 56 mins in)

youtube.com/watch?v=SJEa0vk3eDY
jon357 63 | 14,149
19 Sep 2017  #18
it will never be an aurochs because it has a completely different genotype.

It's an interesting idea. Something similar was done in Poland with the Tarpan. The original stock were too tasty and easy to catch to survive wartime hunger, however selective breeding of similar animals allowed a very similar population to be restored to the same forests.
kaprys 2 | 1,668
19 Sep 2017  #19
There's already Heck cattle.
Tarpans were first mixed with the domestic horse by peasants.
jon357 63 | 14,149
19 Sep 2017  #20
Tarpans were first mixed with the domestic horse by peasants.

Then the 'pure' ones were eaten. Good that they're back in a recreated form.
kaprys 2 | 1,668
19 Sep 2017  #21
The pure ones had been eaten before all over Europe. Eastern and Central Europe were the last places where they survived.
What breeds do you refer to as related to tarpans, BTW?
jon357 63 | 14,149
19 Sep 2017  #22
The pure ones had been eaten before all over Europe.

Centuries ago probably. They survived near Lublin until the war. Sadly that was the last of them.

What breeds do you refer to as related to tarpans, BTW?

Whatever they were recreated from. As far as I know, they used animals brought from further east and bred selectively.
CasualObserver
19 Sep 2017  #23
they used animals brought from further east and bred selectively

Przewalski's Horse, wasn't it? From Mongolia, named after a Polish-Russian explorer.
jon357 63 | 14,149
19 Sep 2017  #24
That may be right. It's a long time since I read the guide book to Roztocze. Przewalski was an interesting man, as dull as ditchwater according to contemporary sources, yet feted in society. A great explorer. One of Poland's LGBT heroes too.

The story about him being Stalin's natural father is nonsense - he was thousands of miles away at the time, and in any case wasn't Interested in ladies.
CasualObserver
19 Sep 2017  #25
and in any case wasn't Interested in ladies

at least it wasn't horses, eh? ;)
kaprys 2 | 1,668
20 Sep 2017  #26
Actually the last tarpan died in 1909 in a Russian zoo. The wild ones survived till the 1880s in Ukraine.
Konik polski and Przewalski horse are said to be similar to the tarpan. The same applies to Heck horse. I doubt the tarpan was successfully recreated, though.

Hopefully, we won't let aby more known animal species become extinct.
jon357 63 | 14,149
20 Sep 2017  #27
You can visit them in Poland The Polish forestry authorities publish interesting information about them surviving until the 1940s - there were around 40 left in the wild, however all were gone by 1949. The Polish Academy of Science recreated the breed in the 1950s.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
20 Sep 2017  #28
I'll be visiting them on Saturday. Afaik they recreated them using tarpan-like animals they found on farms. The ones in the reserve in Bialowieza are as close as they could get to the real thing.
kaprys 2 | 1,668
20 Sep 2017  #29
I'm afraid you're talking about the konik polski, not tarpans that became extinct much earlier @jon357

@Roger5
Yeah, they're koniks. I remember them as being quite friendly. They would come up to the fence - lovely creatures.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
20 Sep 2017  #30
The last time I was there a stallion was servicing a mare, and the other mares had formed an orderly line.


Home / History / Aurochs, the primitive prehistoric cattle of Europe, had lived in Poland?
BoldItalic [quote]
 
To post as Guest, enter a temporary username or login and post as a member.