She had gone to the York Fair and seen some farm animals. Her childhood in
the Phillipines included a grandpa who had a small ... what we'd call a farmette
or gentleman's farm or truckpatch: pigs, chickens, garden.
"What kind of cows did you see", I asked.
The ensuing discussion pointed out how much most of us don't know about our
burgers and ice cream and where it comes from. I have a passing knowledge of
some of the cattle breeds, generally color-coded: if it's black, it's an Angus,
if it's white it's a Charlais, if it's black and white it's a Holstein. If it
looks like Disney invented it for a Bambi movie it's a Jersey... Bambi with the
attitude of the Terminator.
I asked if she had cows back in her childhood home. Sure, of course. Water
buffalo? What? A quick google search on the phone turned up pictures of
"The carabao ( Filipino: kalabaw; Malay: kerbau) or Bubalus bubalis
carabanesis is a subspecies of the domesticated water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) found in the Philippines, Guam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and various parts of Southeast Asia. Carabaos are ssociated with farmers, being the farm animal of choice for pulling both a plow and the cart used to haul produce to the market." (Wiki)
Which led me to wondering how they are related to cattle and buffalo/American bison.
Family: Bovidae Subfamily: Bovinae Genus: Bos Species: B. primigenius Subspecies: B. p. taurus, B.
The Water Buffalo: Subfamily: Bovinae Genus: Bubalus Species: B. bubalis Subspecies: B. b. carabanesis
The Bison: Family: Bovidae Subfamily: Bovinae Genus: Bison Species †B.
antiquus, B. bison, B. bonasus,†B. latifrons,†B. occidentalis,†B. priscus
The Cape Buffalo (of Africa, which looks like a water buffalo) is a whole 'nother beast: it is not closely related to the domesticated water buffalo, and it is not the ancestor of modern cattle.
Domesticated Water Buffalo are quiet, gentle beasts... Cape Buffalo are one of the most dangerous beasts in Africa, you're better off meeting a lion on the trail than a buffalo. Cape Buffalo will ambush and attack pursuers. Of course, their main predators are humans, lions and crocs. They have to be
The Yak: Family: Bovidae Genus: Bos Species: B. grunniens
Family: Bovidae Subfamily: Bovinae Genus: Syncerus, Species: S. caffer...
subspecies: S. c. caffer, S. c. nanus, S. c. brachyceros, S. c. aequinoctialis, S. c.
Clearly all the same beasts (bovinae) up until the "genus" part.
When I looked up cattle species (not breeds), the idea of Cow got more complicated...
What Wiki says:
Cattle were originally identified as three separate species: Bos taurus , the European or "taurine" cattle (including similar types from Africa and Asia); Bos indicus, the zebu; and the extinct Bos primigenius, the aurochs. The aurochs is ancestral to both zebu and taurine cattle. Recently these three have increasingly been grouped as one species, with Bos primigenius taurus, Bos primigenius indicus and Bos primigenius primigenius as the subspecies.
Complicating the matter is the ability of cattle to interbreed with other
closely related species. Hybrid individuals and even breeds exist, not only between taurine cattle and zebu (such as the sanga cattle, Bos taurus africanus) but also between one or both of the se and some other members of the genus Bos – yaks (the dzo or yattle, banteng, and gaur. Hybrids such as the beefalo breed can even occur between taurine cattle and either species of bison, leading some authors to consider them part of the genus Bos as well. The hybrid origin of some types may not be obvious – for example, genetic testing of the Dwarf Lulu breed, the only taurine-type cattle in Nepal, found them to be a mix of taurine cattle, zebu, and yak. However, cattle cannot successfully be hybridized with more distantly related bovines such as water buffalo or African buffalo. The aurochs originally ranged throughout Europe, North Africa, and much of Asia. In historical times its range became restricted to Europe, and the last known individual died in Masovia, Poland, in about 1627. Breeders have attempted to recreate cattle of similar appearance to aurochs by crossing traditional types of domesticated cattle, creating the Heck cattle breed. The yak may have diverged from cattle at any point between one and five million years ago, and there is some suggestion that it may be more closely related to bison than to the other members of its designated genus. Apparent close fossil relatives of the yak, such as Bos baikalensis, have been found in eastern Russia, suggesting a possible route by which yak-like ancestors of the modern
American bison could have entered the Americas.
"During the population bottleneck, the number of bison remaining alive in
North America declined to as low as 541. During that period, a handful of
ranchers gathered remnants of the existing herds to save the species from
extinction. These ranchers bred some of the bison with cattle in an effort to
produce "cattleo". Accidental crossings were also known to occur. Generally,
male domestic bulls were crossed with buffalo cows, producing offspring of which
only the females were fertile. The crossbred animals did not demonstrate any
form of hybrid vigor, so the practice was abandoned. The proportion of cattle
DNA that has been measured in introgressed individuals and herds today is
typically quite low, ranging from 0.56 to 1.8%. In the United States, many
ranchers are now utilizing DNA testing to cull the residual cattle genetics from
their herds. The U.S. National Bison Association has adopted a code of ethics
which prohibits its members from deliberately crossbreeding bison with any other
America nearly killed off the bison (part of it was an attempt to subdue to
Native tribes who depended on it, part was greedy hunting). Out of those
slightly more than 500 individuals came our present thundering herds. Not a lot
of DNA to work with there. I was surprised to see the cow DNA lurking in there,
that second generation animals were fertile, (unlike mules) and that ranchers
have tried to eliminate the cow DNA now.
There it is, the tangled DNA web of Cow. I leave you with oen more Wiki
contemplation... of the word COW...
Cattle did not originate as the term for bovine animals. It was borrowed from Old French catel, itself from Latin caput, head, and originally meant movable personal property, especially livestock of any kind, as opposed to real property (the land, which also included wild or small free-roaming animals such as chickens — they were sold as part of the land). The word is closely
related to "chattel" (a unit of personal property) and "capital" in the economic sense. The term replaced earlier Old English feoh "cattle, property" (cf. German: Vieh, Gothic: faihu). The word cow came via Anglo-Saxon cū (plural cȳ), from Common Indo-European gʷōus (genitive gʷowes) = "a bovine animal", compare Persian Gâv, Sanskrit go, Welsh buwch. The genitive plural of "cū" is cȳna", which gave the now archaic English plural, and Scots plural, of "kine".