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Temporal range: Miocene to present
Buffalo and Oxpeckers (7234007684).jpg
African buffalo
(Syncerus caffer)
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
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 a 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 is believed to be paraphyletic 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 ten when the closely related 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, Bali cattle and taurine cattle are thought to descend from ancient Indian, Bali 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">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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nilgai</span> Largest living Asian antelope

The nilgai is the largest antelope of Asia, and is ubiquitous across the northern Indian subcontinent. It is the sole member of the genus Boselaphus, which was first described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766. The nilgai stands 1–1.5 m (3.3–4.9 ft) at the shoulder; males weigh 109–288 kg (240–635 lb), and the lighter females 100–213 kg (220–470 lb). A sturdy thin-legged antelope, the nilgai is characterised by a sloping back, a deep neck with a white patch on the throat, a short crest of hair along the neck terminating in a tuft, and white facial spots. A column of pendant coarse hair hangs from the dewlap ridge below the white patch. Sexual dimorphism is prominent – while females and juveniles are orange to tawny, adult males have a bluish-grey coat. Only males possess horns, 15–24 cm (5.9–9.4 in) long.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saola</span> Species of mammal

The saola, also called spindlehorn, Asian unicorn, or infrequently, Vu Quang bovid, is one of the world's rarest large mammals, a forest-dwelling bovine native to the Annamite Range in Vietnam and Laos. It was described in 1993 following a discovery of remains in Vũ Quang National Park by a joint survey of the Vietnamese Ministry of Forestry and the World Wide Fund for Nature. Saolas have since been kept in captivity multiple times, although only for short periods as they died within a matter of weeks to months. The species was first reported in 1992 by Do Tuoc, a forest ecologist, and his associates. The first photograph of a living saola was taken in captivity in 1993. The most recent one was taken in 2013 by a movement-triggered camera in the forest of central Vietnam. It is the only species in the genus Pseudoryx.

<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">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.

<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">Boselaphini</span> Tribe of mammals

Boselaphini is a tribe of bovines. It contains only two extant genera, each with a single extant species.

<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 buffalo from the Late Pleistocene and Holocene 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. The time of its extinction is of debate; Syncerus antiquus either became extinct at the end of the Late Pleistocene about 12,000 years ago or during the Holocene, some 4,000 years ago.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bovidae in Chinese mythology</span>

Bovidae in Chinese mythology include various myths and legends about a group of biologically distinct animals which form important motifs within Chinese mythology. There are many myths about the animals modernly classified as Bovidae, referring to oxen, sheep, goats, and mythological types such as "unicorns". Chinese mythology refers to those myths found in the historical geographic area of China, a geographic area which has evolved or changed somewhat through history. Thus this includes myths in Chinese and other languages, as transmitted by Han Chinese as well as other ethnic groups. There are various motifs of animals of the Bovidae biological family in Chinese mythology. These have often served as allusions in poetry and other literature. Some species are also used in the traditional Chinese calendar and time-keeping system.

<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.