Once upon a time, aurochs, — mighty cows “that stood almost as tall as elephants, with lean, powerful frames and fearsome horns,” — roamed wild in Europe.
For thousands of years these great mammals lived in relative peace, mostly invulnerable to attacks by wolves (the only beasts of prey in the same neck of the woods they needed to keep an eye on).
Then humans found them and began to decimate their numbers until the last auroch died in Poland in 1627.
But here’s the thing. While the auroch is indeed extinct, some of its genes survived and are to this day present in various breeds of cattle in Europe.
And this article explains why that’s key, both to bringing back these magnificent animals and to benefitting the region’s ecology .