The Aurochs, distribution


Aurochs roamed around large parts of Europe, Asia and the northern part of Africa. According to recent insights, the aurochs originated in India some 2 million years ago. During the Pleistocene epoch (2,5 million to 12,000 years ago) the species spread across other parts of Asia, also into northern Africa and Europe. The earliest remains of the aurochs found in Germany date from about 400,000 years ago, but it is estimated Aurochs has reached Europe long before that, probably around 700,000 years ago. 


Distribution of Aurochs in the Pleistocene epoch (c) Marleen Felius

The Eurasian aurochs spread in good numbers to virtually all corners of Europe, except for Ireland, northern Scandinavia and what is now the boreal taiga forest zone. The northernmost aurochs remains so far discovered were in the southern part of Lake Ladoga in Russia, near St. Petersburg. 

After the Ice Age  aurochs was the largest remaining herbivore in Europe. The actual size of the aurochs depended the circumstances. On average, aurochs from Northern Europe were larger than those from the South. In Denmark and Germany the shoulder height of aurochs bulls varied between 155 cm and 180 cm, while bulls from the Iberian Peninsula ranged from 140 cm to 170 cm. Aurochs cows were smaller (sexual dimorphism) with shoulder heights between 135 cm and 155 cm. So Aurochs definitely was a large mammal, but its modern frisian-holstein descendants are about the same size (although rather differently built).