Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 12th, 2007
One of the first photographs taken in the wild of the elusive kouprey.
Kouprey (Bos sauveli), a wild forest-dwelling ox, was discovered in 1937. (Indeed, the kouprey is discussed as an animal of discovery in cryptozoology, on page 128, here.)
Cryptomundo has discussed the ongoing debate about the reality of the kouprey here before.
This photograph (above) was taken in 1937 of a kouprey at the Vincenes Zoo, Paris; the animal died in 1940.
Nature, 449, 124 (13 September 2007) has published in their “Advance Online Publication” of September 12, 2007, the breaking news that the Kouprey (Bos sauveli) has been found to be a separate species. In Ewen Callaway’s “Mystery ox finds its identity: Near-extinct kouprey reclassified as distinct species,” the item notes:
The kouprey, an enigmatic Asian ox believed to be a hybrid — and so, unworthy of conservation efforts — is in fact a distinct species related to the banteng (a wild ox) . The conclusion contradicts earlier findings  that the horned beast is a cross between the banteng and domesticated zebu cattle.
First identified in 1937 and last spotted in the 1980s, the kouprey (Bos sauveli) has become a symbol for conservation in southeast Asia. Some experts think that it is already extinct.
Gary Galbreath, a biologist at Chicago’s Field Museum in Illinois who concluded that the kouprey was a hybrid, told CBS News: “It is surely desirable not to waste time and money trying to locate or conserve a domestic breed gone wild.” He based that conclusion on the observation that kouprey and banteng (Bos javanicus) shared several sequences of mitochondrial DNA.
Now, Alexandre Hassanin and Anne Ropiquet of the National Natural History Museum in Paris have sequenced three regions of mitochondrial DNA and five of non-coding nuclear DNA from seven related species, including kouprey.
The pair found that kouprey have unique sequences of both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Their data suggest that kouprey should indeed be a conservation priority — if anyone can find one.Mystery ox finds its identity by Ewen Callaway
Sources: 1. Hassanin, A. & Ropiquet, A. Proc. R. Soc. B doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0830 (2007). 2. Galbreath, G. J., Mordacq, J. C. & Weiler, F. H. J. Zool. 270, 561–564 (2006).
The above pictured kouprey is the misidentified animal that arrived at the menagerie of the botanical garden of Paris in 1871. After its death, it was mounted and placed in the Natural History Museum of Paris, before being entrusted in 1931 to that of Bourges. Its heading: “Ox of Kampuchea, gift of the Minister for the Navy.” (Kampuchea is another name, used by some, for Cambodia.)
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