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Temporal range: Miocene to present
Buffalo and Oxpeckers (7234007684).jpg
African buffalo
(Syncerus caffer)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
J. E. Gray, 1821

Bovines (subfamily Bovinae) comprise a diverse group of 10 genera of medium to large-sized ungulates, including cattle, bison, African buffalo, water buffalos, and the four-horned and spiral-horned antelopes. The evolutionary relationship between the members of the group is still debated, and their classification into loose tribes rather than formal subgroups reflects this uncertainty. General characteristics include cloven hooves and usually at least one of the sexes of a species having true horns. The largest extant bovine is the gaur.


In many countries, bovid milk and meat is used as food by humans. Cattle are kept as livestock almost everywhere except in parts of India and Nepal, where they are considered sacred by most Hindus. Bovids are used as draft animals and as riding animals. Small breeds of domestic bovid, such as the Miniature Zebu, are kept as pets. Bovid leather is durable and flexible and is used to produce a wide range of goods including clothing and bags.

Systematics and classification

Bovine skull. Bovine skull 02-FMVZ USP-20.jpeg
Bovine skull.


Bovine is derived from Latin bos, "ox", through Late Latin bovinus. Bos comes from the Indo-European root *gwous, meaning ox.

Related Research Articles

Buffalo most commonly refers to:

<i>Bos</i> Genus of wild and domestic cattle

Bos is the genus of wild and domestic cattle. Bos is often divided into four subgenera: Bos, Bibos, Novibos, and Poephagus, but including these last three divisions within the genus Bos without including Bison in the genus is believed to be polyphyletic by many workers on the classification of the genus since the 1980s. The genus as traditionally defined has five extant species but this rises to eight when the domesticated varieties are counted as separate species, and 10 when the closely related genus Bison is also included. Most but not all modern breeds of domesticated cattle are believed to have originated from the extinct aurochs. Many ancient breeds are thought to have originated from other species. Zebus and taurine cattle are thought to descend from ancient Indian and Middle Eastern aurochs, respectively.

<i>Bubalus</i> Genus of bovines

Bubalus is a genus of Asiatic bovines that was proposed by Charles Hamilton Smith in 1827. Bubalus and Syncerus form the subtribe Bubalina, the true buffaloes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tamaraw</span> Species of buffalo

The tamaraw or Mindoro dwarf buffalo is a small hoofed mammal belonging to the family Bovidae. It is endemic to the island of Mindoro in the Philippines, and is the only endemic Philippine bovine. It is believed, however, to have once also thrived on the larger island of Luzon. The tamaraw was originally found all over Mindoro, from sea level up to the mountains, but because of human habitation, hunting, and logging, it is now restricted to only a few remote grassy plains and is now a critically endangered species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Four-horned antelope</span> Small antelope from Asia (Tetracerus quadricornis)

The four-horned antelope, or chousingha, is a small antelope found in India and Nepal. Its four horns distinguish it from most other bovids, which have two horns. The sole member of the genus Tetracerus, the species was first described by French zoologist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville in 1816. Three subspecies are recognised. The four-horned antelope stands nearly 55–64 centimetres (22–25 in) at the shoulder and weighs nearly 17–22 kilograms (37–49 lb). Slender with thin legs and a short tail, the four-horned antelope has a yellowish brown to reddish coat. One pair of horns is located between the ears, and the other on the forehead. The posterior horns are always longer than the anterior horns, which might be mere fur-covered studs. While the posterior horns measure 8–12 centimetres (3.1–4.7 in), the anterior ones are 2–5 centimetres (0.79–1.97 in) long.

<i>Tragelaphus</i> Genus of mammals

Tragelaphus is a genus of medium-to-large-sized spiral-horned antelopes. It contains several species of bovines, all of which are relatively antelope-like. Species in this genus tend to be large in size and lightly built, and have long necks and considerable sexual dimorphism. Elands, including the common eland, are embedded within this genus, meaning that Taurotragus must be subsumed into Tragelaphus to avoid paraphyly. Alternatively, Taurotragus could be maintained as a separate genus, if the nyala and the lesser kudu are relocated to their own monospecific genera, respectively Nyala and Ammelaphus. Other generic synonyms include Strepsiceros and Boocercus. The name "Tragelaphus" comes from the mythical tragelaph.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giant eland</span> An open-forest and savanna antelope of the family Bovidae

The giant eland, also known as the Lord Derby's eland and greater eland, is an open-forest and savanna antelope. A species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus, it was described in 1847 by John Edward Gray. The giant eland is the largest species of antelope, with a body length ranging from 220–290 cm (87–114 in). There are two subspecies: T. d. derbianus and T. d. gigas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bovid hybrid</span> Crossbreeds in the bovid family

A bovid hybrid is the hybrid offspring of members of two different species of the bovid family. There are 143 extant species of bovid, and the widespread domestication of several species has led to an interest in hybridisation for the purpose of encouraging traits useful to humans, and to preserve declining populations. Bovid hybrids may occur naturally through undirected interbreeding, traditional pastoral practices, or may be the result of modern interventions, sometimes bringing together species from different parts of the world.

<i>Pelorovis</i> Extinct genus of cattle

Pelorovis is an extinct genus of African wild cattle which existed during the Pleistocene epoch. The best known species is Pelorovis oldowayensis from Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, from the Early Pleistocene. The species "Pelorovis" antiquus from the Late Pleistocene-Holocene has since been moved into Syncerus, the same genus as living African buffalo.

<i>Taurotragus</i> Genus of mammals

Taurotragus is a genus of large antelopes of the African savanna, commonly known as elands. It contains two species: the common eland T. oryx and the giant eland T. derbianus.

Bos acutifrons is the most ancient representative of the genus Bos, cattle. Fossils of an individual of B. acutifrons were found in middle Pleistocene-aged strata of Siwalik Hills of Kashmir, in either modern Pakistan or India, in the 19th century. The prehistoric species was described, along with B. planifrons, by Richard Lydekker in 1878. In 1898 Lydekker synonymised B. planifrons with B. acutifrons, reconsidering the skull found to be that of a female individual of the same species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bovini</span> Tribe of cattle

The tribe Bovini, or wild cattle, are medium to massive bovines that are native to Eurasia, North America, and Africa. These include the enigmatic, antelope-like saola, the African and Asiatic buffalos, and a clade that consists of bison and the wild cattle of the genus Bos. Not only are they the largest members of the subfamily Bovinae, they are the largest species of their family Bovidae. The largest species is the gaur, weighing up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lb).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tragelaphini</span> Tribe of antelopes

The tribe Tragelaphini, or the spiral-horned antelopes, are bovines that are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. These include the bushbucks, kudus, and the elands. The scientific name is in reference to the mythical creature the tragelaph, a Chimera with the body of a stag and the head of a goat. They are medium-to-large, tall, long-legged antelopes characterized by their iconic twisted horns and striking pelage coloration patterns.

Elaeophora sagitta is a parasitic nematode found in the heart, coronary arteries and pulmonary arteries of several ruminant species and African buffaloes in Africa. Infestation usually occurs without significant health effects in the Greater kudu, but may affect cardiac function in some other host species.

<i>Syncerus antiquus</i> Extinct species of buffalo

Syncerus antiquus, is an extinct species of bovid from the Pleistocene of Africa. It was one of the largest species in its family, potentially weighing up to 2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb). Due to this fact, it is sometimes known as the African giant buffalo. Syncerus antiquus became extinct at the end of the Late Pleistocene about 12,000 years ago or even during the Holocene, some 4,000 years ago.

<i>Bubalus murrensis</i> Extinct species of mammal

Bubalus murrensis, also known as European water buffalo, is an extinct bovine that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene. Its closest living relatives are the wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee), the tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), the lowland anoa (Bubalus depressicornis), the mountain anoa (Bubalus quarlesi) and the domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). A 2021 study of the DNA of current European buffalo herds showed that there was some interbreeding with the domestic water buffalo before it finally became extinct.

<i>Duboisia santeng</i> Extinct Ice-Age antelope from Indonesia

Duboisia santeng or Dubois' antelope is an extinct antelope-like bovid that was endemic to Indonesia during the Pleistocene. It went extinct during the Ionian stage of the Pleistocene, about 750.000 years ago. Duboisia santeng was first described by the Dutch paleoanthropologist and geologist Eugène Dubois in 1891.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bubalina</span> Subtribe of bovines consisting of the true buffalo

Bubalina is a subtribe of wild cattle that includes the various species of true buffalo. Species include the African buffalo, the anoas, and the wild water buffalo. Buffaloes can be found naturally in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, and domestic and feral populations have been introduced to Europe, the Americas, and Australia. In addition to the living species, bubalinans have an extensive fossil record where remains have been found in much of Afro-Eurasia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bovina (subtribe)</span> Subtribe of cattle

Bovina is a subtribe of the Bovini tribe that generally includes the two living genera, Bison and Bos. However, this dichotomy has been challenged recently by molecular work that suggests that Bison should be regarded as a subgenus of Bos. Wild bovinans can be found naturally in North America and Eurasia.