Monday, 25 June 2018

Meet the Extinct Cow with a 'Bulldog' Skull

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | June 15, 2018 03:12pm ET

Nobody would ever say to this cow, "Why the long face?"

The snub-nosed cow, known as a Niata, is a now-extinct breed of domesticated cattle once found in South America. Its shortened, broad profile, unique in cows, was more reminiscent of a bulldog than a bovine; it had a dramatically flattened face and a significant underbite, much like contemporary dog breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and boxers. Naturalist Charles Darwin wrote about Niata cows in 1845, after seeing them for the first time in Argentina. Though their bizarre head shape generated much discussion in the decades that followed, their biology was not well understood.

Recently, scientists conducted the first analysis of the Niata cow's anatomy and genetics, to find out whether the animal's shortened jaw and skull affected its ability to eat and breathe, possibly contributing to the breed's extinction. [Heritage Livestock Are Vanishing Across the United States (Photos)]

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