|Image credits: both from Morguefile:|
Bison (left) by gduncan, Longhorn (right) by ArturoYee
Buried bones, ancient carvings, and cave paintings reveal early European cow-types. Some had the large shoulder humps of bison, some showed the big horns of the aurochs—extinct ancestors of modern cattle—and others seemed like hybrids between these forms. Classic Darwinian evolution asserts one ancestor for various descendants. These supposedly separate into isolated species which can't breed, like tree branches extending far from their trunk. A recent study exposed how this concept clashes with the actual trends in cow-kind variation.To finish reading, click on "Cattle-Bison Hybrid Stomps On Evolutionary Expectations".
The study, published in Nature Communications, analyzed both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences extracted from numerous ancient European bovine bones. The team identified three species among the remains: the steppe bison, the aurochs, and a mysterious hybrid species they nicknamed the "Higgs Bison" as a play on the mysterious subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. When they pinned each bone's radiocarbon age to a timeline, an unexpected pattern emerged.
The mystery species dominated the European landscape for a while, then gave way to the Steppe Bison, only to reassert itself again later on, repeatedly.