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Aurochs by Evometheus6082

Aurochs - Bos primigenius

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Bos
Species: Bos primigenius
Authority (Bojanus, 1827)

TSEW StatusExtinct (EX), Year assessed: 2014IUCN StatusExtinct (EX), Year assessed: 2008


Bos mauretanicus Thomas, 1881; Bos namadicus Falconer, 1859; Bos primigenius italics Pohlig, 1911; Bos primigenius siciliae Pohlig, 1911; Bos taurus primigenius (Bojanus, 1827)


Linnaeus gave the European domesticated cattle breeds its scientific name Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758. He knew that the wild ancestor of domesticated cattle breeds had lived in Europe and maybe still lived at the time. We know this because he had classified 'urus' (= aurochs) under the same species name. Linnaeus saw the aurochs and the European domesticated cattle as one and the same species. In the time of Linnaeus the memory of the aurochs was almost completely disappeared. There was some confusion and discussion on the number of wild cattle species that existed in Europe. Like Bojanus, some said that only one species existed, namely the European bison or wisent (Bison bonasus). Others said that there were two species, namely the European bison and the aurochs. In the beginning of the 19th century many bones of aurochs were excavated and one complete skeleton existed. Bojanus named a new species from this skeleton: Bos primigenius Bojanus, 1827. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Nowadays we know that Bos primigenius and Bos taurus belong to the same species, so conform to the Code of the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature was the scientific name of the aurochs Bos primigenius changed into the name given by Linnaeus Bos taurus by Wilson and Reeder in 1993. Some scientists had criticism on this change of the scientific name of the aurochs. They wanted that there would  be made an exception for domesticated animals. 

In 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature "conserved the usage of 17 specific names based on wild species, which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic forms", confirming Bos primigenius for the Aurochs. Taxonomists who consider domesticated cattle a subspecies of the wild Aurochs should use Bos primigenius taurus; the name Bos taurus remains available for domestic cattle where it is considered to be a separate species. (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 2003)

There has been considerable discussion regarding the actual taxonomic status of the different aurochs subspecies. Based on detailed craniometric analysis, Grisson (1980) has proposed that Bos primigenius namadicus and Bos primigenius primigenius should be classified as separate species. Epstein & Mason (1984) disputed this proposal, claiming that the distinction between races is not particularly clear-cut, being based on body size and horn shape (both of which can be affected by environmental influences). This view is also shared by Zeuner (1963a) and Payne (1991) who argue that geographical range is the basis of the classification and not biological taxonomic status. (Bunzel-Drüke, 2001)


The aurochs was much larger than the domesticated cows of now.  Previously people thought that the shoulder height of an aurochs bull was approximately 200 cm and that of a cow 180 cm (Herre, 1953). Now scientists have calculated on the basis of the length of the humerus (upper leg bone) that the shoulder height of an aurochs bull probably varied between 160 and 180 cm, and that of an aurochs cow around 150 cm. The aurochs bull’s coat colour was black-brown with a small light eel stripe. The colour of the cow was just as the calves’ colour reddish brown. The bull as well as the cow probably had a light zone around the snout. The aurochs’ horns were pointed forward and were curved inwards. Although the shape of the horn was very characteristic for the aurochs, there was some variation in the length, thickness, curving, and position with regard to its forehead. The udder of the aurochs cow was small and hardly visible. (Van Vuure, 2003)


In spring and summertime, the aurochs’ diet consisted probably mostly from grasses, grass-like plants, completed with herbs and leaves of trees and bushes. In autumn they ate somewhat less grass and more from trees and bushes. This was completed with tree fruits, like acorns. During wintertime the aurochs diet consisted beside grass, grass-like plants and herbs for an important part from branches and even some bark from trees and bushes. The last population of aurochs in Poland in the forests of Jaktorów were extra fed in the winter with hay. (Van Vuure, 2003)


The time for breeding and thus also the time in which the calves were born was during a particular period of the year. In Poland (where the last aurochs lived) occurred the breeding period in late summer, probably in August and September. The calves were born in late spring, probably in May and June. The adult bulls migrated shortly before and during the breeding period to the mixed herds in order to mate there with the cows.(Van Vuure, 2003)


The aurochs lived in mixed herds of cows, calves and young bulls. Beside that, there were also small herds of older bulls and solitary (alone living) old bulls. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Range & Habitat

The aurochs (Bos primigenius Bojanus, 1827) had once a distribution area that included almost whole of Europe, large parts of Asia, and North Africa (see range map below). At that time there existed still three subspecies of the aurochs, namely Bos primigenius namadicus Falconer, 1859 that occurred in India, the Bos primigenius mauretanicus Thomas, 1881 from North Africa and naturally the Bos primigenius primigenius Bojanus, 1827 from Europe and the Middle East. Only the European subspecies has survived until in recent times, that is also the aurochs where we are discussing here on this page. (Van Vuure, 2003)

If the aurochs did occur on islands within its range depends on the accessibility from the mainland and the size of such island. Like modern cattle, the aurochs could swim, but not far distances. Like Japan, the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus, Crete and Malta have never been reached by aurochs, but Sicily did have an aurochs population. After the disappearance of the land bridge with mainland Italy, the Sicilian aurochs dwarfed to a size 20% smaller than the mainland form. (Brugal 1987; Van Vuure 2003)

The landscape where in the aurochs in Europe lived consisted of extensive forests alternated through different kinds of swamps. On the basis of bone that are found and old descriptions, the aurochs appears to have preferred swamps and swamp woods, like river valleys, river deltas, and different kind of bogs. Beside swamp woods the aurochs shall also have lived in less wet forests. In Europe, possible a particular separation has existed between the biotope of the aurochs and that of the European bison (Bison bonasus). The aurochs lived in somewhat more wet forests and the European bison in the some drier forests. There will have certainly also existed an overlap between the habitats of these two species (Van Vuure, 2003). However there is uncertainty as to what ecological niche the aurochs filled. Dr Frans Vera claims that the aurochs lived in open parkland.

History & Population

The first ruminants (whereto the aurochs belonged) arose approximately 40 million year ago.  Through the expansion of savannas and grasslands on earth, arose about 25 million year ago the on grass-adjusted ruminants. Most old representative of the genus Bos is Bos acutifrons Lydekker, 1898. It is widely accepted that from this species all later species arose. Bos acutifrons lived till in the middle of the Pleistocene still in India. Between 1.5 and 2 million years ago the aurochs descended probably from this species. (Van Vuure, 2003)

The aurochs spread out in the course of the Pleistocene from India to for example Europe. The aurochs arrived through a southern route first in southern Europe, from where it probably went on  via central Europe to Russia. The aurochs appeared approximately 700,000 years ago in Spain and the most old remains of the aurochs in Germany dates from 275,000 years ago. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Information on the occurrence of the aurochs in Asia is pretty scarce. The mid and east Asian populations of the aurochs probably became already extinct in the Pleistocene. Palaeontologists Lanpo Jia and Qi Wei (1980) claim to have made the discovery of a Holocene aurochs in China (Zong 1984), but this determination is unreliable because the remains were found in a river that probably moved it from its original site (Van Vuure 2003).However, almost certainly a population in India has survived, because in that area the domesticated zebu originated. An early image of the zebu made by the Mohenjo-Daro culture dates from 4000-2000 B.C., at that time people knew also other cattle breeds that resembled western breeds. 

Like in Asia, there is little information known about the occurrence of the aurochs in the Middle East and North Africa, but luckily just a bit more. The last occurrence of the aurochs in Egypt can be fixed on the basis of a hunting trip of pharaoh Ramses ll in 1197-1165 B.C., but probably that hunt appeared to be held in North Mesopotamia (nowadays Iraq). Many represented hunting trips are known from images from Mesopotamia. The youngest account of aurochs from that region arrives from a hunting trip on 'wild cattle' by the Assyrian king Senacherib (704-681 BC) in North Mesopotamia. In Libya, there a known account of the Greek historian Herodotus (± 485-425 BC), who mentioned there the presence of cattle that was doomed to graze backwards because of their curved horns (‘Historiën’, Book lV, chap. 183). One is only not certain if it here really goes about aurochs. We could say that the aurochs disappeared in the Middle East and North Africa in the course of the first millennium B.C. (Van Vuure, 2003)

The process of decline and disappearance of the aurochs in Europe started in south and western Europe to the northeast and ended finally in Poland. In the southern parts of Europe, like Spain, south and mid-Italy, and the southern Balkans, it is not known from bone finds, names of cities, rivers, etc.), or descriptions until what time the aurochs survived there in the wild. In the United Kingdom no remains can be found that date after 1300 BC (early bronze age). Around 30 BC Vergillius mentioned that in the north of Italy still 'wild aurochs' lived that were captured to be tamed. The ancient Romans made big efforts to catch and transport wild animals (including the aurochs) to Rome and other cities to be used in arena fights. This does suspect that the aurochs the aurochs became extinct in Italy around the start of our era. In Denmark the aurochs disappeared first on the islands, namely around 5500 BC. In Jutland, the continental part of Denmark, the aurochs became extinct around the birth of Christ. In the Netherlands no remains of the aurochs are known that date after the period of the ancient Romans (after 400 BC). In Belgium aurochs have occurred, but a national systematic overview of aurochs finds is still absent. In France Charlemagne hunted for example in 802 AD at a aurochs 'with gigantic horns'. Possibly aurochs came still to France for a long time from Germany and Switzerland, where the aurochs still was reported in 1000 AD. According to an account of Adam van Bremen could the aurochs still be found in Sweden in the 11th century, but it is not certain if this is the truth or from folktales. Aaris-Sørensen (1999) posits the extinction of the aurochs in Sweden around 4500 BC, much earlier! We know for sure through an account of Olaus Magnus that the aurochs was extinct in Sweden in the year 1555. In Russia the aurochs became probably extinct in the 12th or 13th century. In Hungary the oldest bones date from the 12th century, and probably the aurochs became probably extinct before 1250 there. In Germany reliable accounts of aurochs between 1406 and 1408 are preserved. (Van Vuure, 2003)

The very last aurochs survived only in Poland. In 1476 the two last aurochs populations came in the possession of the Royal Family, after they were in possession of the Duke of Mazovia. In the second halve of the 16th century the aurochs only survived in the forests of Wiskitki and Jaktorów. The first inspection report that names aurochs dates from 1564. At that time only 38 aurochs remained, namely 22 cows, 3 young animals, 5 calves, and 8 bulls. In the year 1566 only 24 aurochs survived. Documents from 1602, 1620, and 1630 report only aurochs from the forest of Jaktorów. The inspection report from 1602 names just 4 animals, namely 3 bulls and only one cow. In 1620 the last aurochs bull dies and only one cow is left. In the inspection report of 1630 is written: 'In the previous report [from 1620] is written that only one cow was left, but the residents of this village [Jaktorów] said that she died three years ago'. This means that the last aurochs died in 1627. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Some aurochs have also lived in captivity, for example in the zoo in Zamość in southeast Poland, that was mentioned in a letter of a visitor from 1610. Before that the same writer of that letter wrote that the aurochs only could be found in the zoo in Zamość. It is not known if these captive aurochs have survived there for a long time and if they had survived the wild population. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Extinction Causes

Humans were the cause of the decline and extinction of the aurochs. This was done through means of hunt, but also thought competition on its feeding ground by domesticated cattle. Finally the very last aurochs in Poland disappeared through a combination of disinterest, corruption, cattle diseases, food competition (from domesticated cattle), and in less extent hunt. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Conservation Attemps

In central Poland in the forests of the village of Jaktorów there was for some centuries a good organised animal management, wherein the aurochs took a central position. In the beginning the aurochs were Ducal possession and later that became Royal. There they were protected and fed in the winter period. The Kings Zygmunt I and his successor Zygmunt August had no great interest for the hunt and did because of that not much to preserve the Royal hunt objects. The result of this was that the Royal grip on the protection of the aurochs weakened. After 1572, a very restless time began in Poland. A time where different Kings succeeded each other in a very short time and where much internal struggle existed. The organisation of the protection of the aurochs was more and more hollowed out and the influence of the King decreased strongly. When in 1604 only some aurochs remained, in a Royal decree it was ordered that everything needed to be done to protect the aurochs and its habitat, but this has not helped sadly enough. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Selective Breeding

Already in 1835, the Polish zoologist Jarocki pleaded in an article to undertake and attempt to get the aurochs back in its original form. But it lasted still almost hundred year before someone actively began with an attempt to re-breed the aurochs. The brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck have both made attempts to recreate the aurochs in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Both brothers did this through cross several cattle breeds, which possessed aurochs characteristics according to them, and to select the offspring. Each brother used his own selection of cattle breeds. Heinz began his experiment in the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich. Lutz began a bit later than his brother with his experiment in Berlin. The result of their experiments to re-breed the aurochs was according to the Heck brothers quickly achieved and had a strong resemblance to the real aurochs. Lutz released his Heck cattle into the wild in large nature areas in Germany and Poland, but Heinz kept his Heck cattle exclusively in zoos and small game parks. Most likely the Heck cattle of Lutz have not survived World War II, and do only the Heck cattle of Heinz remain today. After the war, individual breeders have bred the Heck cattle to their own (often wrong) insight. Today, Heck cattle can be found in many places, like zoos and nature parks. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Relatively fast after the creation of Heck cattle there came criticism to as well the execution as the result of the re-breeding experiment. The criticism addressed especially on the image on how the aurochs looked like, that the brothers Heck had formed themselves. This image was created by a mixture of truth and mostly phantasy. There was even a difference of opinion between the brothers over how the aurochs looked like. Furthermore there was criticism on the way they bred and selected and on the speed on which they reached their end result. Heinz worked at most 12 years on his experiment, and Lutz only at most 11 years. The selection criteria were vague and broad, and there was no good administration kept of the crossings that had been made. The re-breeding experiment of Lutz and Heinz Heck is characterized by an incompetent and untransparent way of working. (Van Vuure, 2003)

When we now compare the Heck cattle and the real aurochs, we see that there is little similarity between the two. Only the colour of the fur of some Heck cattle is similar, but there are also many Heck cattle with a wrong fur colour. This is caused by the recessive genetic characteristics which still exist in Heck cattle and originated from the used domesticated European cattle breeds. Other characteristics, like the shape of the horns and body size, do not resemble the real aurochs. (Van Vuure, 2003)

A cattle population that as a whole has more characteristics of the aurochs than the current Heck cattle is that of the Spanish Fighting cattle. Within the heterogeneous population of the Spanish fighting cattle not only more aurochs characteristics are present, but often also combined in one individual. Within this populations there exist for example red-brown cows with a small utter and the aurochs horn shape, and black-brown bulls with a light eel stripe, a light snout and the aurochs horn shape. The selection and crossing of these Spanish bull fight can reach the target to recreate the aurochs much faster and better than has been done by the Heck brothers and their Heck cattle. (Van Vuure, 2003)

Museum Specimens

From the extinct aurochs a large amount of separate bones, some 15 more or less complete skeletons, some keratine horns and some hairs are left at the moment. There are no soft tissues left, like meat or skin. (Van Vuure, 2002)

In the National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet) a skeleton of the aurochs can be found, the Vig-Aurochs. This almost two-metre tall aurochs was wounded by the sharp flint tips of Stone Age hunters’ spears, but was not killed. The circles in the photo indicate where the animal was wounded by arrows. The ox fled from the hunters into a lake in Odsherred where it sank to the bottom and died, denying the hunters their kill. The aurochs died around 8600 BC, but its skeleton was not found until 1905. The skeleton of another aurochs was found in the vicinity in 1985.

Other remnants of the aurochs can for example be found in the
 Natuurmuseum Groningen (Groningen, the Netherlands), the Zeeuws Museum(Middelburg, the Netherlands), a skull in the Rosensteinmuseum (Stuttgart, Germany). 


The closest relatives of the aurochs are of course the domesticated descendants, namely the European cattle breeds (Bos primigenius taurus), the Spanish fighting cattle in particular, and the zebu breeds (Bos primigenius indicus). Although the relationship between the different species of the cattle groups (Bovini) has not yet been complete declared, is the aurochs further probably most related to the gaur (Bos frontalis) and the banteng (Bos javanicus).


Aurochs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Bunzel-Drüke, M. (2001). Ecological substitutes for Wild horse (Equus ferus Boddaert, 1785 = E. przewalslii Poljakov, 1881) and Aurochs (Bos primigenius Bojanus, 1827). Natur- und Kulturlandschaft, Höxter/Jena, 4, 10 p. AFKP. Online pdf (298 kB)

Brugal, J. P. (1987). Cas de "nanisme" insulaire chez l’aurochs. 112th Congrès National des Sociétés Savantes, Lyon, 2, pp. 53-66.

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. (2003). Opinion 2027 (Case 3010). Usage of 17 specific names based on wild species which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Bull.Zool.Nomencl., 60:81-84.

MacHugh, D.E. (1996) Molecular Biogeography and Genetic Structure of Domesticated Cattle [Ph.D. thesis]. University of Dublin. Website (with pdf article)

Pohlig, H. (1911) Bull. Soc. beige Geol. vol. xxvi. Proc. Verb. pp. 311-17.

Van Vuure, C. T. (2002). History, morphology and ecology of the Aurochs (Bos taurus primigenius). Lutra 45-1. Online pdf (603 kB) Also available in Dutch: Van Vuure, C. T. (2002). Historie, morfologie en ecologie van de oeros (Bos taurus primigenius) Lutra 45-1.

Van Vuure, C.T. (2003). De Oeros - Het spoor terug, Cis van Vuure, Wageningen University and Research Centrum / Ministry of the Flemish Community, Brussels & Wageningen. Also available in English: Van Vuure, C.T. (2005). Retracing the Aurochs: History, Morphology and Ecology of an Extinct Wild Ox. Pensoft Publishers. Sofia-Moscow.

Zong, G. (1984). A record of Bos primigenius from the Quaternary of the Aba Tibetan Autonomous Region. Vertebrata PalAsiatica, Volume XXII No. 3 pp. 239-245. Translated by Will Downs, April 1991. Online pdf (62 kB)

Ankole by Evometheus6082

Ankole-Watusi cattle are the show-stoppers of the bovine kingdom. Medium-sized animals, with long, large-diameter horns, they attract attention wherever they appear. These regal animals can easily trace their ancestry back more than 6,000 years and have often been referred to as "cattle of kings."

The History of an Ancient Breed

Long-horned, humpless domestic cattle were well established in the Nile Valley by 4000 B.C. These cattle, known as the Egyptian or Hamitic Longhorn, appear in pictographs in Egyptian pyramids. Over the next twenty centuries (2.000 years), the Egyptian Longhorn migrated with its owners from the Nile to Ethiopia, and then down to the southern reaches of Africa.

By 2000 B. C., humped cattle (Longhorn Zebu) from Pakistan and India reached Africa. When these Zebu reached the region now known as Ethiopia and Somalia, they were interbred with the Egyptian Longhorn. The admixture produced -- the Sanga -- spread to the Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and other parts of eastern Africa, becoming the base stock of many of the indigenous African breeds. The Sanga demonstrated most of the typical Zebu characteristics, such as pendulous dewlap and sheath, upturned horns, and a neck hump of variable size. Modern descendants of the Sanga, however, vary greatly in size, conformation, and horns, due to differing selection pressures by different tribes.

Particularly remarkable are the cattle found in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. In Uganda, the Nkole tribe's Sanga variety is known as the Ankole. In Rwanda and Burundi, the Tutsi tribe's Sanga variety is called the Watusi. The Rwanda common strain of Watusi is called Inkuku. The giant-horned strain, owned by the Tutsi kings and chiefs, is called the Inyambo, though some current tribal reports claim that this type is now extinct. Traditionally, Ankole-Watusi were considered sacred. They supplied milk to the owners, but were only rarely used for meat production, since an owner's wealth was counted in live animals. Under traditional management, the Ankole cow was grazed all day, then brought home to her young calf. The calf was allowed to suckle briefly to stimulate milk letdown, then the cow was milked by the herdsman. The calf suckled after hand-milking was finished and was again separated from its mother. The process was repeated in the morning. This minimal nourishment of calves resulted in high death rates in the young. Milk production was not high, with a typical cow producing only 2 pints of milk daily, although an exceptional one could manage up to 8 pints. In addition, the lactation period was short. Over the last 10 years, the national government has attempted to select for animals which produce more milk and have better meat production. Famine and disease, as well as the conflict with traditional practices, have slowed this effort.

Ankole Cattle Outside of Africa

Because of their striking appearance, and the resulting ability to attract paying customers, Ankole cattle were imported from Africa by European zoos during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Zoos and game parks in Germany, Sweden, and England were among the breeders of these cattle outside Africa. The cattle were called Ankole, or Ankole-Watusi, and they were treated as a single breed. American zoos and other tourist attractions imported Ankole-Watusi cattle from European zoos in the 1920s and 1930s. As time went on, and zoos began to change their emphasis from visually-exciting animals to those (wild) animal species in desperate need of preservation (whether "eye-catching" or not), more Ankole-Watusi cattle became available for sale to private individuals and several private herds were begun.

In January, 1983, North Americans interested in the Ankole-Watusi cattle breed met in Denver, Colorado, and formed the Ankole Watusi International Registry. Many of these people had been raising Ankole-Watusi cattle since before 1978. They felt that it was time to begin a breed registry which could collect and maintain pedigree information and conserve this interesting breed. Within five months, the Registry had 74 members nationwide. These members shared a strong commitment to the breed, though they had different priorities for it. Some wanted to concentrate solely on the prevention of breed extinction; some selected for their utility in the production of superior cross-bred roping animals. Still others championed the low-fat and low-cholesterol meat values after these were discovered.

Breed Characteristics

The Ankole-Watusi should appear elegant, well-bred, and graceful. A straight topline and a sloping rump are required; a neck hump is preferred, but not required. Cattle may be solid or spotted in color. Horns are long and symmetrical, with a base large and proportional to horn length. Lyre and circular shapes are preferable to flat. The Ankole-Watusi is medium in size, with cows weighing 900 - 1200 pounds and bulls weighing 1000 - 1600 pounds. Newborn calves weigh 30 - 50 pounds. This small birth-weight makes Ankole-Watusi bulls useful for breeding to first-calf-heifers of other breeds. During the day, calves sleep together, with an "auntie" cow for protection. At night, the herd-members sleep together, with the calves in the center of the group for protection. The horns of the adults serve as formidable weapons against any intruders.

The milk is about 10 percent fat. Some dairy farmers have used crossbred Ankole-Watusi cows in their herds to boost the butter-fat levels.

Because they were developed in a climate where daily temperatures may range from 20 to 120 degrees F, Ankole-Watusi tolerate temperature and weather extremes well. The large horns act as radiators; blood circulating through the horn area is cooled and then returned to the main body. This allows excess body heat to be dispersed.

Breed Status

The Ankole Watusi International Registry adopted a breed standard in 1989. This has been an important part of the Registry's program to encourage animal scientists to take this unusual breed seriously, instead of treating it as a curiosity.

Bloodtyping of Native Pure (15/16) and Foundation Pure (100%) animals is required for registration in order to guarantee the accuracy of the stated pedigree.

Three meat studies have been done in the last five years, and the results have been good for the breed. Ankole-Watusi meat has been demonstrated to be very low fat and to have lower cholesterol than other commercial beef. These studies will continue, because the AWIR has the establishment of utility value as a high priority. This will be a way to protect the market for breeding stock as "curiosity" prices begin to disappear.

An upgrade program has been established. The 1/2, 3/4, and 7/8 female offspring of Ankole-Watusi crosses are registerable, and the 15/16 female or male offspring are registerable.


Watusi International Registry, 22484 W. 239 St., Spring Hill, Kansas 66083-9306. Internet address:

Dragon Chess and Checkers by Evometheus6082
Dragon Chess and Checkers
It's the same as a traditional chess/checkers board except this rule
Land on a tail go to the next tail on the other side
Land on a head and you're as good as dead
Made this for the Chess Dragon contest by the Dragon organisation group on deviantart
Grey Wolf by Evometheus6082
Grey Wolf


Gray wolves range in color from grizzled gray or black to all-white. As the ancestor of the domestic dog, the gray wolf resembles German shepherds or malamutes. Though they once nearly disappeared from the lower 48 states, today wolves have returned to the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Southwestern United States.

Wolves play a key role in keeping ecosystems healthy. They help keep deer and elk populations in check, which can benefit many other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers. Scientists are just beginning to fully understand the positive ripple effects that wolves have on ecosystems.


Wolves eat ungulates, or large hoofed mammals, like elk, deer, moose and caribou, as well as beaver, rabbits and other small prey. Wolves are also scavengers and often eat animals that have died due to other causes.


Did You Know?

Wolves have unique howls, like fingerprints, that scientists (and other pack members) can use to tell them apart.

There are an estimated 7,000 to 11,200 gray wolves in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes region and 1,675 in the Northern Rockies.

Habitat & Range

Gray wolves were once common throughout all of North America, but were exterminated in most areas of the United States by the mid 1930s. Today, their range has been reduced to Canada, Alaska, the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most favored places to see and hear wolves in their native habitat. Wolves require large areas of contiguous habitat that can include forests and mountainous terrain, and Mexican gray wolves can thrive in desert and brush in the southwest. Suitable habitat must have sufficient access to prey, protection from excessive persecution, and areas for denning and taking shelter.

Endangered Species Act:ENDANGERED »


Height: 26-32 inches at the shoulder
Length: 4.5-6.5 feet from nose to tail-tip
Weight: 55-130 lbs; Males are typically heavier and taller than the females.
Lifespan: 7-8 years in the wild. 12 years or more in remote or protected areas.


Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 7 to 8 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack's territory. Wolves develop strong social bonds within their packs.   

Wolves have a complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls. While they don't actually howl at the moon, they are more active at dawn and dusk, and they do howl more when it's lighter at night, which occurs more often when the moon is full.


Breeding season occurs once a year late January through March. Pups are born blind and defenseless. The pack cares for the pups until they fully mature at about 10 months of age when they can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 50 to 500 miles.

Mating Season: January or February.
Gestation: 63 days
Litter size: 4-7 pups

 Did You Know?

The alpha female and alpha male wolves of a pack usually mate for life.


Historically, hundreds of thousands of gray wolves roamed wild throughout North America. During the 19th and 20th centuries, as the human population grew, people began to compete with wolves for game and habitat.

Wolves were also viewed as pests and vermin, and were slaughtered by the thousands. As a result, wolves nearly disappeared from the lower 48 states. Today, gray wolves are making a comeback in parts of the U.S., but many challenges prevent a full recovery for these majestic animals.

Conflict with Humans

Where wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the most common cause of death for wolves is conflict with people over livestock losses. While wolf predation on livestock is fairly uncommon, wolves that are suspected of preying on livestock are often killed, sometimes even entire packs. Where they are not protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, the most common cause of death for wolves is hunting and trapping. 


Overall, the greatest threat to wolves is prejudice, fear and misunderstanding about the species. Many fairy tales and myths tend to misrepresent wolves as villainous, dangerous creatures. Anti-wolf extremists perpetuate these myths, and it is a slow process to undo decades of misinformation. Some hunters perceive wolves as a threat to hunting opportunities, while others understand that wolves tend to prey on weaker or diseased elk and deer instead of the ”trophy bulls” commonly targeted by hunters.  By culling weaker animals from the herds, wolves help maintain the overall health of these animals. 

Habitat Loss

Another serious threat is human encroachment into wolf habitat. This leads to habitat fragmentation, where wolves might have to travel across lands with varying degrees of protection, cross highways, through developed areas and across large portions of private land, potentially containing livestock. All of these increase the risks wolves must face. This makes it very difficult for wolves to adequately expand into all areas of suitable habitat, which is vital to sustainable recovery of wolves in the lower 48.

Diminishing Protections

Wolves in the lower 48 states are in danger of losing the protections that they so desperately need. In 2011, in an unprecedented move by Congress, gray wolves across much of the Northern Rockies were stripped of their protections under the ESA. Since then, thousands of wolves have been killed in the region, and states have established alarmingly aggressive management plans for these animals. In the entire history of the Endangered Species Act, wolves are the only species to go from protected to hunted in a single day. Wolves in the Great Lakes region were also delisted in 2011.

Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove all ESA protection for nearly all gray wolves across the remaining parts of the U.S. This decision could derail wolf recovery efforts in areas around the country where it has barely begun like the states of Oregon and Washington, and in states that possess some of the nation’s best unoccupied wolf habitat.   


For decades, Defenders has been a leader in promoting wolf recovery throughout their natural ranges.

We were one of the driving forces behind their successful reintroduction in 1995 and 1996 into the Northern Rockies and greater Yellowstone region and led the way to reintroduce wolves to the Southwest in 1998.

Unfortunately, wolves today continue to face threats to their survival and Defenders continues to work on the ground, in the courts, and in state and federal legislatures to give America's wolves a lasting future.

Ensuring a Lasting Future for Gray Wolves >>
As advocates for wolves, Defenders is actively challenging state wildlife agencies and legislatures on reckless wolf management policies , exposing threats to wolves to help ensure a long-term future of a healthy, sustainable wolf population.

Helping Ranchers Coexist with Wolves >>
Defenders has pioneered practical solutions to help livestock and wolves coexist on the same landscape. We’re working with ranchers across the West to develop nonlethal deterrents, better animal husbandry practices, and other innovative tools that minimize conflict and build social acceptance for wolves.


Just the Facts on Wolves

Wolves have been demonized and misunderstood for much of history.

Today’s myths about wolves have become so common that they’ve become accepted as fact in parts of the West, and have been spread by anti-wolf blogs and websites seeking to frighten the public and impact political decisions regarding wolves. Unfortunately, these fabrications are now commonly found in media stories, legislative hearings and even within state wildlife agencies. They have also been reflected  in legislation and regulations that reduce protections for wolves and reduce public support for wolf conservation and deepen the conflicts between stakeholders. 

Here are the facts about gray wolves.


FACT: Wolves have coexisted with elk and other prized game species for centuries.

Overall, elk and deer continue to do well across the Northern Rockies. For example, in 2013, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks stated that well beyond a majority of Montana’s elk populations are in excellent shape. One hundred and nine districts are at or above management objectives and only 26 districts are below objectives set in the elk management plan.

Populations of prey species like elk naturally increase and decrease in size over time. They do so in response to changes in habitat, nutrition, disease, hunting pressure, predation, weather and a number of other factors. Sometimes predators may cause temporary local impacts on isolated herds, but predator numbers are primarily driven by the availability of their prey, which in turn is controlled by the availability of food and human hunting pressure. These intertwined factors demonstrate nature’s inherent balance, and ensure that elk, deer and other ungulates are not “wiped out” by the animals that eat them. It is also important to note that during times when wolves, grizzly bears and other predators were greatly reduced or absent on the landscape, elk and deer populations most likely reached artificially high levels.  Moreover, wolves are often blamed for putting pressure on prey animals like elk or deer, when this is more often caused by other predators like bears or mountain lions.

FACT: The wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone and central Idaho in the mid-90s are a native species that historically lived throughout North America.

The Rocky Mountains were once part of a continuous range for wolves from Canada down to Mexico. The gray wolves currently in the Northern Rockies are the same species (Canis lupus) that roamed across the region before they were eliminated by humans. In fact, wolves from the area where they were captured in Canada for the wolf reintroduction have walked on their own into central Idaho, demonstrating there is no natural boundary or barrier that would have separated wolves within the region.

FACT: Wolves typically have an innate fear of humans and tend to keep their distance.

Many westerners consider living with wildlife an important part of their natural heritage. Wolves add to that rich wildlife experience. As is true with bears, mountain lions, wolves and other wild animals, there are basic safety considerations when living, working and recreating around such wildlife. It is sensible to give wildlife adequate space, know how to avoid conflict and understand what to do in the unlikely case of an encounter.

Anyone who has watched or tracked wolves knows how difficult it can be to get close to these wary creatures. In fact, human presence is one of the strongest deterrents to wolf depredations on livestock and is a key strategy for proactive intervention.

There have been reports that wild wolves may be responsible for the death of two people in North America in the last 100 years. These attacks are indeed tragic, but they are also extremely rare. Far more humans have been killed by bee stings, accidental shootings during hunting season, and domestic dogs than by wolves or other wild predators, and many more people die from road accidents with elk, deer and cattle than from all wildlife attacks combined. 

FACT: Wolves are still not recovered in suitable habitat throughout significant portions of their range.

Gray wolves were once common throughout all of North America, but with the exception of a small remnant population in nothern Minnesota, they were eliminated from the lower 48 states by the middle of the last century. Today, wolves only inhabit approximately 36% of their suitable habitat. Defenders advocates for the restoration of wolf populations in appropriate suitable habitat that still exists out west in Colorado and parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

FACT: Wolf depredations on livestock still account for less than 1% of all livestock losses in the Northern Rockies.

More livestock are lost to other predators like mountain lions, coyotes and even stray dogs than to wolves. Far more are killed by disease, bad weather, birthing problems and other natural causes. Defenders has a successful track record of working with ranchers and other livestock producers to minimize wolf conflicts. Nonlethal methods, such as using range riders, guard dogs, portable fencing, hazing and changing animal husbandry practices have all proved highly effective in deterring wolf depredations.

FACT: Wild carnivores do not kill for fun; they kill to survive.

Wolves do sometimes kill more than they can eat in one sitting, which biologists call surplus killing. This has been documented in many carnivore species including bears, coyotes, and snow leopards, as well as wolves (Kruuk 2002). It is best recognized in cases of interactions with domestic sheep and predators. It is believed that the sheep’s ensuing panic during a predator attack triggers the increased losses not directly caused by predators such as wolves. Additionally, people often deem a wolf kill as a “sport kill” when they come upon a dead animal and little of it is eaten. People rarely take into account that perhaps they scared the wolves off of the kill before they could finish eating (Vander Wal 1990). Also, what looks like an animal killed by wolves may simply be the case of wolves scavenging from the carcass of an animal that died due to other causes.


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Alaska is home to the largest remaining population of gray wolves in the United States. Though one of Alaska’s most iconic creatures, the state has a long history of killing wolves through various means. Early in the 20th century, wolves were hunted with virtually no controls, and bounties were common.

But the wolf’s fight in Alaska hasn’t been against extinction — the state’s wolf population is healthy, with estimates ranging from 7,000 to 12,000. Instead, their fight has been one against inadequately monitored control programs which aim to increase game populations through controversial methods. As game populations declined in the 60s and 70s, state-sponsored wolf control commenced and included aerial gunning.


Gray wolves once dominated the western landscape, but widespread killing virtually wiped them out in the lower 48 states by the 1940s. Today, wolves are back in the Northern Rockies thanks to a highly successful reintroduction program in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park, and to dedicated conservation efforts. By the end of 2012, the estimated population was 1,674 wolves in the Northern Rockies region.

Over the years, despite many efforts by Defenders and other conservation groups to gain social acceptance for wolves on the ground, repeated attempts were made to prematurely strip federal protection for wolves in all or part of the Northern Rockies.

In 2009, the Bush administration made one more last-ditch attempt to strip federal protection for wolves across the Northern Rockies based on individual state management plans. The FWS moved forward with delisting wolves in Idaho and Montana, but not Wyoming, where the state’s plan was deemed inadequate. Defenders and 12 other conservation groups challenged the delisting and filed for a preliminary injunction to stop proposed wolf hunts. Though the injunction was denied and hunts began in Montana and Idaho, protection was reinstated in 2010 when the district court ruled in favor of Defenders, saying the decision to remove federal protection for wolves violated the Endangered Species Act.

Under intense political pressure from anti-wolf hunting and ranching organizations, Congress passed an appropriations amendment or “rider” in 2011 as part of a much larger, must-pass funding bill that reinstated the 2009 delisting rule and barred it from further judicial review. Under this amendment, federal protection was officially removed in Idaho and Montana, as well as in the western parts of Oregon and Washington.  The FWS later delisted the wolf in Wyoming as well, even though the state’s management plan was remarkably similar to one that the FWS had previously rejected. Defenders is actively challenging the Wyoming delisting in court.

Aggressive wolf hunts have already resumed in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. For example, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has adopted year-round hunting and trapping in parts of the state and Wyoming has eliminated protection for wolves in over 80% of the state. As a result, the future of wolf recovery across the region remains uncertain.


Wolf restoration in the Western Great Lakes is an Endangered Species Act success story, for now.

More than 30 years of federal protection in the region helped to bring this critically important animal back from a small remnant population in northern Minnesota to current numbers of more than 4,000 animals in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

These states could still follow the negative, anti-wolf path of their neighbors to the West. Wisconsin has already taken steps in that direction by deciding to adopt as its wolf management goal, a sharp reduction in its population of wolves.  Defenders continues to monitor state management activities in the Great Lakes to ensure that the successful recovery of wolves in this region is maintained.


Standing Up for Wolves

In 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service held several public hearings on their proposal to delist most gray wolves in the U.S. And at each one, Defenders was there in force, bringing hundreds of pro-wolf voices to the events and providing training and advice for those who wanted to present testimony against the proposal. In addition, by working together with other conservation groups, we were able to gather more than 1 million pro-wolf public comments on the proposal.

Montana Commission Proposal Halted

In early 2012, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission was considering a proposal to extend the wolf hunting season in the Bitterroot Valley in order to boost elk herds. Defenders, our allies and our supporters weighed in to convince the commissioners not to support the unjustified extension, and they unanimously rejected the proposal.

Washington Passes Wolf Compensation and Coexistence Funding

In 2012, the Washington state legislature passed a bill to provide more than one million dollars toward funding compensation and nonlethal coexistence strategies to increase conservation efforts for wolves in the state.  Defenders advocated heavily for this measure.

Oregon Passes Landmark Wolf Coexistence Bill

On August 3, 2011 the governor of Oregon signed a bill into law that establishes a county-based livestock compensation and wolf coexistence program to reduce conflicts between livestock and wolves.

Paradise Valley Coexistence Project

Defenders, in collaboration with partners Natural Resources Defense Council and Keystone Conservation, is helping to fund a project in Paradise Valley outside of Yellowstone National Park that uses a combination of tools to proactively manage livestock in a way that can make them less vulnerable to predation. Some of the tools used on the project are a range rider, electric fence and carcass removal. We are in the second year of this project, and look forward to learning more from this field season.

Wood River Wolf Project

In the Sawtooth Mountains of south-central Idaho, excellent occupied wolf habitat overlaps the grazing grounds for thousands of sheep every summer. Defenders’ ongoing Wood River Wolf Project works on the ground with local stakeholders to use nonlethal methods of keeping livestock and wolves safely apart. Since its inception in 2007, the project has protected 10,000-27,000 sheep each year as they graze in the Sawtooth National Forest. The project area has the lowest loss rate of livestock in the state, and zero wolves there have been killed by wildlife control agents.

Fighting Aerial Gunning

Defenders partnered successfully with numerous local Alaska groups to twice bring Alaska’s aerial wolf-control programs to a halt.  In 1996 and 2000, we helped local groups run two successful citizens’ ballot initiatives that stopped the programs for a period of three years. In 2010, Defenders worked with our partners to successfully prevent the state of Alaska from conducting an aerial wolf control program on Unimak Island, a remote National Wildlife Refuge and wilderness area at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. Programs such as the one proposed for Unimak are inappropriate on federal lands in Alaska. We will continue to support federal wildlife management strategies that are consistent with federal policies and mandates.

Baird's Tapir by Evometheus6082
Baird's Tapir


Mexico, Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia’s Malaya and Sumatra


Swamps, forests, savanna, and rain forests

Odds and ends make a magnificent beast

Zoo visitors often ask, "What is it? A pig? An anteater?" No, it's a tapir, a primitive animal that has remained unchanged for millions of years. The four tapir species are most closely related to horses and rhinos, since they have an odd number of toes (four toes on each front foot, three on each back foot). Their eyes and ears are small, and the body is teardrop shaped: tapered in the front and wider at the rear, designed to walk through thick vegetation. Male tapirs are slightly smaller than females.

Hide What a nose!

The tapir's nose and upper lip combine into a flexible snout like an elephant's trunk. It can be used as a snorkel when the animal is underwater and as an effective tool to detect odors wafting through the dense forest. This prehensile mini-trunk (by elephant standards!) is used to grab branches and strip off the leaves or to help pluck fruit and put it directly in the tapir’s mouth. It also adds an air of mystery to the tapir—at first glance, it’s hard to tell just what this creature is!

- See more at:…

HideA daily dip

All tapirs prefer wooded or grassy areas with places to shelter during the day and a lake, river, or pond for taking a nighttime dip. Their toes are splayed to help create traction in the slippery mud on shorelines and hillsides. Barrel-shaped, with short, bristly hair, tapirs are surprisingly nimble and are excellent at scrambling up steep riverbanks. They can also run and swim. It is thought they walk along river bottoms, much like hippos do.

Tapirs like to spend a lot of time in the water, eating aquatic plants, cooling off, or washing away skin parasites. They can stay underwater for several minutes. Even youngsters are able to swim when just a few days old. Primarily active at dawn and dusk when it’s cooler, many tapirs are active throughout the night, foraging for grasses, plants, and fruits.

HideBeing careful

When frightened, tapirs can take to the water and breathe with their snout poked above the surface like a snorkel. Large cats and crocodiles are natural tapir predators. However, adult tapirs can deter predators with their tough hide and by snapping and biting.

HideTapir treats

A tapir is both a browser and a grazer! Using its incredible nose like a finger, the tapir can pluck leaves from tree branches or root around in the soft underbrush for fallen fruit to dine on. The tapir can use its flexible nose to explore a circle of ground 1 foot (30 centimeters) in diameter without having to move its head!

In the wild, tapirs eat a variety of different plants. This diet gives them an important role in the ecology of their forest home: seeds passing through their digestive tract help reseed for a new generation of plants. Tapirs are nocturnal, so that impressive nose is useful for finding food in the dark.

At the San Diego Zoo, the tapirs are fed a variety of vegetables and browse. Bananas and apples are offered as special treats.

HideTapir talk

Tapirs can communicate in a number of ways. A high-pitched whistle is one of the most common tapir vocalizations: it sounds like car brakes screeching to a halt! A snort with foot stamping usually means the tapir is preparing to defend itself. Urine marking is another important nonverbal signal, and tapirs mark paths through the forest in this way, sniffing along their route and identifying other tapirs in the area to avoid a violent confrontation.

HideGrowing up tapir

After a 13-month gestation period, a single tapir baby (twins are rare), called a calf, is born while the mother stands. The calf’s eyes are open, and it can stand one or two hours after birth.

Even though there are differences in habitat and geography, all tapir calves look like brown- and beige-striped watermelons on legs. This color pattern is great camouflage for the youngsters in the dappled sunlight of the forest, especially when the calf lies down on the ground while Mom forages. The calf begins to lose these markings after a few months, and when the youngster is about six months old, it looks like a miniature adult.

Tapir calves can swim at a very young age. Young tapirs nurse as long as the mother provides milk or until her next calf is born. For many years it was believed that tapirs lived solitary lives in the wild, except for mothers raising young or a male and female that come together during breeding season. Recently, scientists have discovered that tapirs often graze in pairs or small groups, traveling over larger ranges than previously thought.

Calves reach full size in about 18 months but are considered mature at 2 to 4 years.

Hide The importance of tapirs

As a key species in shaping and maintaining the biological diversity of tropical forests, tapirs are vital components in their ecosystems. They are masters at dispersing seeds and leaving them well fertilized, providing themselves and other animals with an ongoing supply of food and shelter. A recent study of lowland tapirs in Peru revealed 122 different seed species in their dung!

Tapirs are important recyclers of nutrients, helping the soil and landscape thrive. They also serve as biological indicators of the health and vitality of an area: tapirs are the first species to decline when there is human disturbance because of their large size, slow reproductive rate, and sensitivity to their environment.

- See more at:…


East vs West
The Eastern lung dragon or the European dragon who will win?

Delicious Bookmarks



Should the xenomorphs from the alien and AvP franchise count as dragons 

No deviants said yes
No deviants said kinda
No deviants said not really
No deviants said not at all


Zach moss
Artist | Hobbyist | Artisan Crafts
United States
Born in 4/29/1994 in Berlin Germany. I like to take pictures of animals and mushrooms for project Noah and to make pipe-cleaner lifeforms and have higher functioning autism.

Should the xenomorphs from the alien and AvP franchise count as dragons 

No deviants said yes
No deviants said kinda
No deviants said not really
No deviants said not at all


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Journal History




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MarielKeybash96 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You Visted my SpritelandersClub?
Evometheus6082 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Yea I was just looking around
MarielKeybash96 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
RisenDork Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks so much for the birthday Llama Badge!  You are so thoughtful!

WillemSvdMerwe Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014
Thanks a lot for the watch!
789lol Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
ようこそに私達の基~!.::. Youkoso ni watashitachi no ki~!
:squee: *Welcome to our group~!* :squee:
Our group may just be starting out, so thank you so very much for giving us a chance and joining! I plan to submit new journals weekly, so don't miss out! Nod Also, once we receive enough support, we may even do contests, giveaways, and other community projects. So if you know any other Japanese enthusiasts, please feel free to invite them over. Heart

Thanks again,
~Tania (789lol):iconbowplz:

Evometheus6082 Featured By Owner May 4, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you for inviting me in the 1st place may the 4th be with you
789lol Featured By Owner May 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
No problem. xD I'm sure I saw you in another Japanese group so I thought that you might be interested is all. x3 I'm glad you're happy! / By the way, have you read the journal that I posted?

The reason I ask is that I plan on doing similar journals in the nearby future based around a certain aspect of Japanese culture that our members would like to hear about. C: Could you help me out?

I just need to know (for now xD) what are the top 5 aspects of Japanese culture that you would like to learn more about?
(In example: (tales/stories vs poems) literature, (tradition vs modern) music, (traditional vs modern) art, (t.v.m.) food, patriotic (anthem, flag, etc.), games, etc.)

Please and thank you!
dango117 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Student Artist
welcome to autistic angels Kermityay  im one of the co founders feel free to ask me qs or chat! XD
RisenDork Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Uncanny.  My son (Kilauea2011.deviant art) has high functioning autism.  He is a gifted photographer (animals, mushrooms and other nature-scapes) and writer.  His favorite band is Within Temptation, and he also listens to Dragonforce and Evanescence.  Our family loves watching Through the Wormhole together, too!  You should look him up -- I bet you'd find you have even more interests in common, as well as someone to share with, who understands first-hand what it is like to have a unique, blessed world-view!  Best of luck in your artistic endeavors! Ninja Sherlock Holmes 
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