One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large wild Eurasian ox that was the ancestor of domestic cattle. It was probably exterminated in Britain in the Bronze Age, and the last one was killed in Poland in 1627.
"Bos primigenius", family "Bovidae"Also called urus
- ‘The beast was as huge as an aurochs, its glossy midnight mane shining in the sunlight as it pawed the ground restlessly with one forehoof.’
- ‘The last aurochs, the wild bovines from which domesticated cattle are descended, died in Poland in the seventeenth century, not long before the last dodos were killed on Mauritius.’
- ‘Most of the panels include motifs of animals, principally aurochs, horse, ibex, and red deer.’
- ‘The lake basin includes piles of skeletons of large mammals such as fallow deer, red deer, and aurochs, the ancestor of modern cattle.’
- ‘The simile is appropriate if the reference is to the aurochs or wild ox, because they had huge, long horns.’
- ‘Artwork and human remains indicate that some 40,000 years ago, our ancestors shared this landscape with rhinoceroses, bison, mammoths, aurochs, wild horses, and giant elks.’
- ‘In the millennia since early Mesopotamians first converted the fierce, ancestral aurochs into the contented cow, a wide variety of specialized breeds have been developed.’
- ‘After all, they still have some wildness in them from their prehistoric ancestors, aurochs.’
- ‘But we wanted to find out whether they also carried a genetic inheritance from the aurochs that still inhabited Europe when cattle were being herded there.’
- ‘The wild aurochs that roamed the old Eurasian continent was midway in size between a modern bull and an elephant, too big, strong and fierce to tame.’
Late 18th century: from German, early variant of Auerochs, from Old High German ūrohso, from ūr (form also found in Old English, of unknown origin) + ohso ‘ox’.
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