The most beautiful mammal of Europe

Yesterday I saw about a half of the wild population of a mammal that I now consider the most beautiful animal of Europe. It is also one of the largest and most dangerous, but I am sure most of my friends here (and most professional zoologists in general) have never heard of it. I am also sure nobody here will guess it correctly 😉 I’ll provide the answer and some photos when I get back to the States next week.

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30 Comments on “The most beautiful mammal of Europe”

  1. heavenlyjane Says:

    Largest would be the European Bison?

  2. Jon Hall Says:

    Cretan Wild Goat?

  3. Lipchitz Says:

    European Bison of Poland or Bielorussia ?

  4. machunter Says:

    Among large mammals the only ones that come to mind as “unknown” are the beaked whales. But hard to imagine you would know you were looking at half the population. And they are certainly not dangerous to humans.

  5. Miles Foster Says:

    Large and dangerous … Musk ox? Elk (moose in America) are large and can be dangerous but hardly unknown. European bison are large and can be dangerous but again hardly unknown. Beaked whale sounds a good guess but dangerous?

  6. mattinidaho Says:

    Polar bear? Woolly mammoth? Euro Bigfoot?

  7. Richard Webb Says:

    Chillingham ‘Wild’ Cattle

  8. Let me please explain; Tauros is one of many efforts to ‘bring back’ the aurochs. Experts concluded that Heck cattle (often used in natural grazing experiments in Holland) were too far from the real thing, so several parties are now trying to breed back their ideal version of the aurochs. Mainly because they think this old/new animal can provide a very important ecological role. Especially in the now establishing ‘Rewilding areas’ in Europe. Though many critics like to make fun of this, I think this is the best wildlife-project in ages; creating dozens of Yellowstone-like wildlife areas complete with their original historic fauna. Anyway; aurochs used to be very dangerous and very big, some small herds are (semi-) wild roaming in different areas in Europe already and they start to resemble the beautiful aurochs more and more. Very interesting stuff!

  9. Well… blush…. thank you very much! It helps that I come from the country where a lot of this rewilding and backbreeding originates from though. So I guess you saw a new herd in Greece or close to it? Was it the ‘Thracian Gold’ place maybe? Did it look good? I dream of making a wildlife documentary about this one day! Please continue your very interesting and great work!

  10. I see. Thanks again. I do not like the fact that they breed out aggressiveness though. I understand why, but it feels a bit like breeding grass-eating lions… And besides that: I think wildlife conservation could benefit quite a lot from pretty dangerous animals living in the wild in Europe again. For those interested, see:

    • vdinets Says:

      Yes, that’s probably not a good idea, considering that they’ll have to protect calves from predators sooner or later. But perhaps once they are introduced into larger reserves with wolves and bears, evolution will set everything right.

      • Well; in Bulgaria free ranging (‘normal’) cattle learned succesfully to form classic circles around their calves really quick when under attack by wolves, so I do not worry too much about that. What I mean is that people will think twice before entering wildlife areas with aurochs-like-assertive cattle, which seems like a conservation bonus to me. Plus it won’t be a real aurochs when its too docile,
        I think.

  11. Miles Foster Says:

    Thanks for this thread, Vladimir, fun, fascinating and for me one of the most interesting posts on mammalwatching for some time. And well done Jeroen. The article you linked to is very interesting and the whole debate around reviving the aurochs and re-wilding generally is extremely thought-provoking. I shall watch developments with great interest.

  12. mattinidaho Says:

    I’ve been interested in the topics of aurochs and rewilding for a long time. I look forward to the photos and story, Vladimir. I think it would be an interesting trip to look for these and also to see some of the other livestock breeds with “wild” characteristics. I know I am weird, but I find that topic to be really fascinating.

  13. I know I am thrilled to live to possibly see bear, wolf, aurochs, european bison, wild horse etc, living together in different countries in Europe soon. Interesting too is that the Konik horse (I have been right in the middle of herds of several hundreds of these ‘wild living’ horses galloping around me; pretty impressive to witness!) is getting less and less popular as a tarpan (original wild horse) substitute here. Now they think the exmoor pony is a much better candidate. There is even some talk of rewilding waterbuffalo and wild donkey in Europe, but that feels a bit over the top for me.

  14. […] Here is the illustrated answer to last week’s quiz. […]

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