Talk:Heck cattle

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POV Issues[edit]

I consider the econd link not to be neutal to the subject. Just have a look at the cover of the book Aikhenbaum et al. published and you see the propagandistic aim of this book. Just the fact thst the Zubr is called a "POLISH species" says much about the neutrality of this link! How can an animal species, once widepread throughout Europe be polish? Anyway, read what the dutch say about Heck Cattle and it's role for the environment, and you will learn more about Heck Cattle than in the second link. Thre is much literature about Heck Cattle in other languages, but because americans don't botther to learn foreign languages all this information will be out of reach for you. You may mock about the Eurpoean enviromentalism and go on to destroy our own last untouched areas. One day, I hope, you will learn. 19:45, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

This article could need some POV work.

1) This page seems to be very critical towards categorising the Heck cattle as "Aurochs". Fact is, cattle are one and the same species as Aurochs, so why is calling Heck cattle "aurochs" so bad and wrong? There is a similar project trying to recreate the Quagga. Their logic is that if you breed specimens of related subspecies that look like the quagga, you'll arrive at a quagga. Please, if the categorization is so erroneous give genetic evidence why the Heck cattle can't be called aurochs.

2)The article also seems to consider the Nazi background as VERY important. I doubt that many Heck cattle, and many of its breeders are active in the national socialist party. Wiglaf

The Aurochs is extinct. You consider the aurochs ande the cow as being the same species. They may be, but they are different subspecies at least. As such you may breed an animal that has the same exterior, but it is not the same animal. An animal is more than just an exterior. As to "genetic evidence" you ask for a bit much, please provide science with genetic material of the aurochs and it will prove you wrong.
As to the Nazi link, it is part of the story. As such it belongs in an encyclopedia. Historic info is not to say that present day breeders are Nazi's. The same logic would make all present day landowners in Louisiana slavers. GerardM 08:00, 9 May 2004 (UTC)

Still, as a species it is hardly extinct, as cattle is widely regarded as deriving from the Aurochs. As a wild form, it is. Categorization is not an entirely objective process, and so I suggest the article be careful about considering the Auroch "extinct" as a species. You're right about the nazi piece. Wiglaf

Aurochs are universally considered extinct except by the small minority who support the Heck cattle. It is basically a fringe belief. Rmhermen 14:01, May 10, 2004 (UTC)

Really? It is the first time, I meet this controversy, but I am not a biologist. Technically, we could consider cattle domesticated Aurochs, like swine is domesticated wild boars, right? Wiglaf

No they are classified as two separate species. And one is extinct. Rmhermen 20:00, May 10, 2004 (UTC)

You seem to believe in the possibility of creating new species in a few thousand years! You probably consider the dog to be a separate species from the wolf, the swine from the wild boar, the horse from the tarpan, etc. The neutrality of this page is contestable. By the way you can't compare with dinosaurs and birds unless you have very warped idea of time spans. There is NO distiction between species that fit this one. Sorry, but you're wrong.Wiglaf

Luckily, this page does not depend on the opinion of myself or you who admit to not being a biologist. It depends on the actually classifications made by actual biologists who classify them as separate species -just as they classify tarpan and horses or dog and wolves. Zebu and cattle are both species decended from aurochs. According to [1]

cattle and zebu "diverged some hundreds of thousands of years ago" based on genetic analysis. Rmhermen 00:26, May 11, 2004 (UTC)

I am back to fix this POV problem. Here is small list of links where cattle is called Bos primigenius taurus (i.e. the same species):
1) [2]
2) [3]
4) [5]
5) [6]
6) [7]
7) [8]
I am glad if we could settle this POV problem once and for all. This is Wikipedia after all. The same revised naming appears with dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and horses (Equus ferus caballus). Regards.--Wiglaf 11:21, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
By the way, Rmhermen, concerning your last edit, explain to me why Bos primigenius taurus is unscientific and why you feel it is POV to have both names in the article. Do you think we should request an arbitration in this matter?--Wiglaf 17:45, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I think we are working on two different things here. You are trying to promote a view that aurochs and cattle are the same species (which I find hard to support given there are no complete specimens of aurochs and little if any DNA testing of the few remains.) I am trying to avoid the statement from the Heck cattle promoters that Heck cattle are a different species or sub-species from cattle, that they are truly reconstructed aurochs. The trinomial name you promote indicates that aurochs and cattle are separate sub-species, not separate species but does not imply that aurochs are not extinct. In that system, aurochs is bos primigenius primigenius. I also note many uses of Bos taurus taurus including by the Smithsonian' sNational Zoo. Modern cattle are not simple descendants of aurochs but are often hybrids of other species and sub-species depending on location. African cattle often have Bos indicus genes, some others are hydrid with Bos grunniens (yak) or Bos bison bison (beefalo). Rmhermen 18:11, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)
Note that I am not a breeder of Heck cattle, and I don't have an agenda of presenting them as one and the same. I do, however, have a certain expertise in categorisation theory and I think we should be careful with taxonomy concerning closely related species or subspecies. Especially when one of them is more or less derived from the other (this is why you're sure to find Bos primigenius taurus for cattle, Equus ferus caballus for horses and Canis lupus familiaris for dogs). Because of this, I don't think it is NPOV that the article categorically states that they are different species.--Wiglaf 19:34, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Whether they are distinct at the species or sub-species level is a different (and not entirely resolvable) matter than the fact that they are different. The fact that Bos taurus (or Bos primigenius taurus) is (depending on breed) partially to mainly (perhaps overwhelmingly) derived from Bos primigenius (or Bos primigenius primigenius) does not mean that they are not different. A lot of this has to do with the modern redefinition of the term species especially in light of genetic research. Rmhermen 20:12, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)
I should also say that some writers still consider Bos primigenius, Bos taurus and Bos indicus separate species. Others consider them to be species Bos primigenius, and Bos taurus with subspecies Bos taurus taurus and Bos taurus indicus. Other consider it Bos primigenius primigenius, Bos primigenius taurus and Bos primigenius indicus. It is not entirely resolved but it does not imply a lack of difference between the groupings. Regardless of the classification level, you can note from [9] that a 10,000 year or 200,000 year timeframe based on archeological or genetic results, respectively, is not considered an impediment to recognizing them as three distinct groups. Rmhermen 20:35, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)
I am not surprised at all at what you tell me. Such disagreement is quite predictable when we have a number of "species" that can interbreed. I think that it is much better if the article states that there is disagreement on the taxonomy, than just to state that they are different species.--Wiglaf 20:42, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The point I am making is that there is no practical difference between stating that they are different species or different sub-species in these cases. Many of these can and do interbreed even at the genus level. Species is not a magic word, just another level of classification. Adjusting it up or down a level doesn't change the level of difference between the groups. Rmhermen 21:10, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)
Well it is a magic word for people who are not aquainted with the problems here. The basic distinction between a species and a subspecies is that crossbred subspecies can have fertile offspring whereas crossbred species normally cannot. I really don't understand why you're so determined to have it only one way. This is Wikipedia, it is supposed to be neutral and claiming that one version is sufficient is POV.--Wiglaf 21:19, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Count me confused because you have been the one insisting throughout this page that they be listed as the same species. Rmhermen 23:04, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)
I did not. Already in my second post I wrote that Categorization is not an entirely objective process, and so I suggest the article be careful about considering the Auroch "extinct" as a species. IIRC, you were bent on removing anything that did not say that they were different species period.--Wiglaf 19:40, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Please submit some source that claims that aurochs are not extinct. Rmhermen 20:24, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
Of course they are extinct, but an extinct subspecies is not the same thing as an extinct species, and in this case its status as a species is not set in stone.--Wiglaf 20:26, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
No extinct as a sub-species is exactly the same as extinct as a species. Dead, gone, ain't no more and never will be. The same as an extinct genus, or family or order. No animal's status as a species is set in stone -have you read our articles on species and lumpers and splitters, etc. Rmhermen 20:38, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
Actually genetic research may advance to Jurassic Park-level so "never will be" may be a bit strong. Rmhermen 20:43, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
Actually genetic research may advance to Jurassic Park-level so "never will be" may be a bit strong. Rmhermen 20:43, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
You actually believe that I am a promotor of Heck cattle. LOL. Stop imagining things for God's sake. This discussion does not concern whether Heck cattle and Aurochs are the same subspecies. It concerns you dicatorial way of defining them.--Wiglaf 20:48, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
No, I beleive you have never seen one (and neither have I) and care little about them (and neither do I). I do beleive you have some odd idea of the word "species" that you are trying to promote but I still don't fully understand what your definition entails. Rmhermen 20:53, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
No, I don't. Explain to me what it entails. My odd idea about species is shared by every scholar who defines them as Bos primigenius taurus1)[10], 2) [11], 3)[12], 4) [13], 5) [14], 6) [15], 7) [16]Wiglaf 20:56, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
First that is not universal or perhaps even common yet. Many still classify them as separate species. But your definition goes much further as you say "why is calling Heck cattle "aurochs" so bad and wrong";, "as a species it is hardly extinct, as cattle is widely regarded as deriving from the Aurochs". Aurochs is extinct, that is if you use Bos primigenius taurus, you must also use Bos primigenius primigenius, which is the name of the extinct sub-species, the aurochs. Modern cattle are not aurochs just because they are descended from them, any more than cattle are buffalo or goats are sheep. You have merely shifted the level from species to sub-species. Heck cattle are Bos primigenius taurus, not Bos primigenius primigenius. Actually Heck cattle are Bos primigenius taurus cross Bos prinigenius indicus with only a small proportion of indicus which resulted from interbreeding with the Watusi breed which is known to be about half indicus.Rmhermen 21:23, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining, I agree. However, you wrote "a different and extinct species (Bos primigenius)" and I hope that the article won't stay as categorical about their classification in the future. It is a question of NPOV.--Wiglaf 21:33, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Many or even most scholars still treat them as separate species so it is not incorrect. If you are going to add qualifying statements to every species in similar situations, good luck. There are hundreds already in Wikipedia, if not thousands that will require changing. Rmhermen 21:47, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
I don't need to. Serious articles usually note these problems, i.e. dog, cat and swine. Or the contributors are very sensible and you can discuss the matter with them without pulling it down to this level, e.g. perch.--Wiglaf 15:51, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    • Sorry to say, but browsing your contrversy it does not seem to make much sense. I noticed that quite often in WP that people talk a lot who demonstrate that they do not have expertise or good knowledge in the field concerned. What they most probably do not realize is that precisely by such behaviour they contribute quite efficiently to keeping away people who would indeed have such expertise from contributing in this project. Those would feel repelled when they notice it, and they are right. (talk) 16:23, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Other attempt to breed wild cattle?[edit]

Have there not been an other more scientific attempt to “breed back” wild cattle? I have heard of a project that used “Spanish fighting bulls and Corsican mountain cows”. (This is my own translation from Swedish. The breeds might not be called so in English.) The result bore a physical resemblance to the Aurochs depicted in prehistoric art. It might also be able to survive in the wild. Something Heck cattle can’t according to Swedish historian Peter Englund.

2007-03-28 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

Hello Lena, I do not quite understand what you mean, I am sorry to say.
1) The term "breed back" is a catch phrase; it is based on wishful thinking, on an illusion, at least in cases such as this when the creature is extinct. You can create "models", "look-alikes", that also may serve as "ecological aequivalents". That is all. And that is independent of your degree of scientific knowledge, or funds, or whatever; because it is in the nature of things.
2) The breeds that you name were indeed part of the "raw materials" that the Heck brothers used, and their results were and are said to resemble cave paintings (Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, or other sources will tell you so). So what is the difference to the Heck cattle project (except that they were a bit more sophisticated, did not use just two breeds) ? It looks like you confused something, or you read about the same project, but the name was not mentioned, or you forgot it, or something like that.
3) Breeding does continue today, with modern knowledge and new and larger "primitive" breeds added (see the German language article by a German broadcaster that is linked to the article here). So the animals that were "created" in the 1920es are altered today so that they do resemble the Aurochs (itself extinct-for-ever) even more...
4) Survive in the "wild" ? All Heck cattle are kept outdoors, all year round (at least in Germany) (except for a few individuals in zoos), even in Bavaria with 20 degrees minus or less in winter time (celsius scale). They even get sort of a winter fur (see beautiful photographs in GEO magazine, some issue in the 90es had a long article on Heck cattle). I do not know if they could today defend themselves against Siberian Bears, or lions (as true aurochs would have the "opportunity" to do in historic times). But wolves are coming back to Germany, and since the bulls stay with the herd all the time (unlike in domestic cattle that are allowed to graze in the open for a while) I do not doubt the herd would defend their calves succesfully against (almost) any wolf attack! So what else would you demand? Or what did your mister Englund have in mind ? Or why would an historian be able to make meaningful statements about this topic (I guess that was an error of yours when you provided a link to "historian" - which apparently does not need any explanation - instead of to his name; I corrected that in your statement above)? Where did he write that, what did he mean, did he bother to give any reason, did he strike you as knowledgeable about this issue ? Please enlighten me a bit !
With Urus-loving regards, Sincerly
Sophophilos: (talk) 16:40, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, I expressed myself quite woolly. When I wrote “able to survive in the wild” I meant surviving without human intervention, such as fences, feeding and so on. An historian is not automatically qualified on this subject. Peter Englund wrote like this in Swedish:

”Försök bedrevs även med att återskapa utrotade djurarter, framför allt då den halvt mytiska uroxen: nazistiska vetenskapare korsade under stort besvär fram en besynnerlig pastisch på detta kreatur - bland annat med hjälp av amerikansk buffel - som sedan släpptes löst, men inte ett enda av dessa genetiska förträffligheter överlevde mötet med det fria.”

My own translation to English:

“Attempts where also carried on to recreate exterminated species, above all the half mythical aurochs: Nazi scientists interbreed with great difficulties a strange pastiche of this cattle – amongst other things by means of American buffalo – which was then let free, but not a single one of these genetic excellences survived the encounter with the wildlife.”

I assumed that he meant Heck cattle but he may have misunderstood it all. After all, he is just a social scientist who has written a essay on the Nazi view of animals.

2008-05-26 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

Alleged "NS-connection" to Heck project[edit]

I find the section of the article quite misleading. As an uninformed reader you may get the impression that this "somehow" was "a Nazi project". There is just one reference given, but that does not even mention, let alone deal with the breeding project. It is an article from the Berlin Zoological Garden yearbook of 2002 (in German, of course); written by a historian, it deals with political pressure to make the (very popular) zoo a "Jew-free area" (concerning questions of administration, shareholders' circle and admittance of visitors) after the NS regime came to power, and how the administration and board reacted to it. It shows that there was hesitation first, and then compliance with such demands, and after the war a complete lack of interest in dealing with that shameful chapter. - So far, no surprise. I know the zoo very well (I kept an annual ticket as a teenager), and I know the institute where the author works ("Institute for Research in Antisemitism", faculty of Humanities, Technical University, Berlin - a unique institution in this - state-run - large University in the German capital city) (because I spent the first two University terms of my life at that faculty). - So the zoo management gave in to political pressure by the Nazis. That is ugly, but seems almost inevitable in such circumstances: in any dictatorship you cannot be (openly) "anti-government" and keep your job. So you could become an opponent, personally, but then you would soon be replaced by someone else, who is not. It makes a difference from the point of view of personal ethics and morale, certainly, yes, but not from the point of view of institutional management (it is going to be streamlined very soon, anyway). The director was Lutz Heck. Apparently he was too willing to give in to pressure. That would paint him in a bad light as a human, if confirmed.

My understanding is that the two brothers worked together in this project, from the beginning, intellectually ( I do not know about finances and staff etc). All sources I read so far state that it was started in the early 1920es; that means in the midst of the troubled Weimar Republic aera. That means about a full decade before the Nazi regime was invited to power by an ill-guided ageing president. They were driven, I understand, by ideas of conservation biology, and probably nostalgia for "things ancient", and "things wild and untamed" or so. These are sentiments that were prominent in Germany since the Romantic age; and are still prominent in many circles both in Germany and other countries.

The Nazi goverment and their skillful propaganda wing usurped about everything and every element of German culture that would fit into their fantasies and plans, from classical music and German literature and archaeology to folk songs to adolescent hiking groups to nature conservation. I do not see why that would mean that those things "were" or "became" "inherently" "Nazi-affin" in any way. As far as I know, Hermann Goering was also an active supporter of the Wisent conservation project. Would that give the project itself (begun much earlier, and continued internationally until today) a "bad odour" ?

Probably the Heck brothers, as most other scientists and administrators in Germany in that time, were very naiv, or conservative, or perhaps even optimistically looking forward to the new rulers. They would probably become party members also - I guess everyone in a dictatorship who holds any sort of high office had to ( I know for certain that ordinary high school teachers in Nazi time Germany became highly suspicious when they did not; directors would certainly have benn forced, or removed from office; let alone anyone "more important" than a school head). They might have been even supporters in the core of their hearts, that could be so. But who knows that- any of you, without evidence ? There were all sorts of attitudes in those years.

Since this, the Nazi dictatorship, is a very ugly chapter, I request everyone, from whatever country, to be careful when making any statements. For this article that means, make a statement only when you are certain about it, and have good and clear evidence, that actually backs up your statement(s), and name that evidence, and be very careful with your wording, so that every reader will understand - without having to ask back again - what precisely you want to state and express with your words and what not. (talk) 16:14, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

for your consideration: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:43, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

The citations for this article really need work[edit]

I think this article needs work. Citations are missing, and some of the citations in the article seem like they aren't up to the standards of verifiabilty. Linking to newspaper articles on History or Science that don't show their sources is generally unreliable. It creates a brick wall in the research chain.

The 1920 start date for the Hellabrun breeding program of the Heck Cattle for instance, would seem to require a citation, as the start dates for breeding programs or other scientific endeavors are important for establishing priority in academic or intellectual property concerns.

The second citation for instance, "Heute haben Sie wieder eine Carla im Zoo" Der Berliner Zoologische Garten und seine jüdischen Aktionäre, Monika Schmidt, Bongo, 9.4.2002is a broken link. And if you hunt around and dig up the article somewhere else ( it doesn't mention the Heck cattle specifically. It refers (as already pointed out) to pressure on the Zoo administration to accept Government directives in a context of the aryanisation of the Zoo's board of directors. The citation should support the following, "Lutz Heck, director of the Berlin Zoological Gardens, began extensive breeding programs supported by the Nazis during World War II to bring back the aurochs." That isn't to be found, either directly or indirectly in the article cited. It appears simply not verifiable using the citation.

Citation No.3, Fox News: 'Nazi Cows' Roam English Countryside is a highly edited abstract version of this article's first citation from The Times' A shaggy cow story: how a Nazi experiment brought extinct aurochs to DevonWhy would we cite two articles with exactly the same (one of them admittedly having rather abbreviated) content? This creates the rather misleading impression of verifiability by having "mulitple" sources. And since the sources themselves don't cite, we would seem to hit that unverifiable brick wall again.

Robbie.johnson (talk) 08:33, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, the English article doesn't hold a candle in form or citation compared with the French Article of the same topic. (talk) 00:08, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Infobox Person[edit]

Is this really the most suited infobox? Regards, --Klemen Kocjancic (talk) 07:25, 2 March 2013 (UTC)


NOTHING about the Nazis? Is this a joke or just censorship? Bataaf van Oranje (talk) 22:35, 11 March 2016 (UTC)

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