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Bos

The bos is a genus that holds both domestic and wild cattle, which are split into the four subgenera, Bibos, Bos, Poephagus, and Novibos. However, these separations are debated. Currently, there are five living species recognized in this genus, but this number could rise to seven or nine if domestic cattle and bison, which are closely related, are re-classified into the Bos genus. The members of this genus are native to Asia, Western Europe, Africa, and some areas in North America. Because it occurs in so many areas, its preferred habitats vary depending on which area and include prairies, wetlands, temperate forests, savannahs, and rainforests.

It is thought that most of the modern species in the Bos genus have adapted from one species, known as aurochs, which died out in the 1700’s from over hunting. There are six species within the Bos subgenus, four within the Bibos subgenus, and only one species in both the Poephagus and Novibos subgenera.

The majority of the species in the Bos genus roam in herds containing between ten and hundreds of individuals. Typically, herds contain one male known as a bull, and the rest of the members are females, known as cows. The herds are organized by a strong dominance hierarchy, led by the bull, and young females will typically hold the position of the mothers. Most females have a pregnancy period between nine and eleven months, and usually have one young.

Most species in the Bos genus are diurnal, being active during the day, but in areas where humans have invaded natural territory, some species can be nocturnal. Some species will even migrate if food and water are not abundant. The average lifespan of wild species ranges between eighteen and twenty-five years, while captive individuals can live up to thirty-six years. Most species are grazers and have a four-chambered stomach, making them ruminants. These stomachs and the teeth, which are built for grazing, break down the plant materials that make up its diet.

Image Caption: Bos. Credit: Raul654/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bos


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