SIZE AND SIZE CHANGE OF THE AFRICAN AUROCHS DURING THE PLEISTOCENE AND HOLOCENE

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Several assumptions on the size of the African aurochs have been tested primarily using measurements assembled from the literature. During the Holocene, the African aurochs was indeed smaller than its European and Near Eastern cousins and it appears also to have been more gracile. The available African aurochs measurements of this period probably derive mostly from male animals, since many females may have been misidentified as domestic cattle. Therefore, the degree of sexual dimorphism remains unknown, although iconographic evidence suggests that it may have been marked. Male Holocene aurochs probably reached a height of about 160 cm at the withers and is not taller than Pleistocene female aurochs, which grew to between 140 and 160 cm. The height at the withers of the Pleistocene male individuals is estimated at between 150 and 170 cm. As in Europe, the aurochs in Africa underwent a size decline between the Pleistocene and the Holocene. The Pleistocene African aurochs moreover seems to have been more robust than its Holocene successor.

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