|The bovines represent an early offshoot of the Bovid lineage,
diverging from the Aegodontids approximately 25 million years ago. Based
on fossil evidence, the Bovinae appear to have arisen in Asia, with the first
fossils appearing around 18.5 million years ago. Perhaps because of the cooler
Eurasian climates, the modern Bovinae have attained a larger body size than
any other bovid subfamily: many species weigh over 200 kg, with several tipping
the scales at over 500 kg.
There is significant sexual dimorphism in this subfamily: in some species, males may weigh twice as much as females. Horns are found in the males of all species. Females of the tribe Bovini also grow horns (as do three species within the Tragelaphini), but the horns are noticeably smaller and thinner than those of males. The horns of both sexes are smooth (there are no annulations present, although in some species the horns are keeled). There are no facial or pedal glands, but a unique scent gland is found between the dewclaws of the hind feet in all members of this subfamily.
There are three traditionally recognized tribes in the family Bovinae:
Some authors recognize the Tragelaphini as a separate Bovid subfamily (Tragelaphinae), including separate tribes for the spiral-horned antelopes (Tragelaphini), nilgai (Boselaphini), and chousingha (Tetracerini), although molecular evidence does not support such a distinction.
Many bovine species have been domesticated by humans. Domestic cattle (Bos taurus) are now found worldwide and are raised for meat, leather, and milk production, as well as being used as beasts of burden. Other domesticated bovines include the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), yak (Bos grunniens), Bali cattle (descended from Banteng, Bos javanicus), and gayal (from gaur, Bos frontalis). Several attempts to domesticate eland (Taurotragus oryx) for milk and meat achieved small-scale success.
(From Hernandez-Fernandez and Vrba, 2005)
or jump to the Bovinae Species List