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Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.

Volume 14
Issue 4
. , EJPAU 14(4), #10.
Available Online:



Dentition was examined in an adult male auroch skull found in the Tuchola Forest (Poland). The investigated skull was almost complete, except for the incisive bones and mandibles, and presented eight upper premolar and molar teeth. Morphologic description and morphometric analysis of these teeth, focusing on occlusal surface features such as nodules, funnels, folds of enamel, prove that auroch dentition is adjusted to the fragmentation of grasses, sedges and herbs, which, in turn, indicates that auroch, being a grazer, was originally associated with steppes and forest steppes.

Key words: .


The occurrence of auroch in Poland is documented with numerous bone forceps, particularly with significant cranial bones. It was described by Gedymin (1995), Chrzanowska (1971), Frąckowiak et al. (2004). Information on craniometrical features in auroch was also included. There were presented craniometrical indices which made it possibile to provide comparative cranial analysis. Chrzanowska (1971), describing the structure and craniometrical features, emphasized measurements that could indicate the age and sex of animals. A detailed catalogue of osseous findings based on Polish auroch has been elaborated by Wyrost (1994). Changes in the morphology of auroch skeleton from neolith to the Middle Ages was analyzed by Lasota-Moskalewska and Kobryń (1990). 

Many authors, describing the morphology, refer to differences and similarities between auroch and domestic cattle; Kobryń, Lasota-Moskalewska (1989), Van Vuure ( 2005), Bunzel-Druke (2001) and Kesely (2008).

In the last few years, especially in hunting magazines, the next osseous debris has been reported in the area of Poland: Augustyniak (1992) in Pilica, Jasiewicz (1992), the area in the vicinity of Biłgoraj, Karalus (1997), the area of Skierniewice, Mejnarowicz (1998), the Obrzyca River, Murat (1999) - Warcin.

In all the cases osseous debris or cranial fragments are investigated. Usually cornus processes and neurocranium fragments are preserved. Complete teeth are very scarce. Data on the use of auroch teeth in the production of ornaments (necklaces, tickets) are provided in archeological literature by Lasota-Moskalewska et al. (1985).

In the investigated skull eight teeth were preserved. The aim was to describe all the preserved teeth according to the shape of fricative surface and to concentrate on metrical features of dentition.


The investigations involved the teeth of auroch found in the Tuchola Forest. A Nikon N90 digital camera was used to photograph all the cheek teeth from the auroch skull Each photograph was taken perpendicular to the occlusal surface of the tooth. The shape of the fricative surface was described; nodules, funnels, columellae, flows and enamel notches. The length and the width of the masticating surface was measured, the total masticating surface, dentine surface and funnel surface (Figure 1). Metrical dentition features were defined with the digital image analysis (NIS-Elements).


Figure 1. Methods of measurements: A, tooth length; B, tooth width; C, masticating surface of the tooth; D, masticating surface of the tooth.


In alveoli of the maxillary bone eight teeth were embedded. On the left side all the molars (M1-M3) were preserved. On the right side of the maxillary bone two premolar teeth (P3,P4) were observed as well as all molars M1-M3. On both sides the first premolar tooth (P2) was not found. The teeth have three roots. The strong third root was noticed on the interior (lingual) side and two poorly formed roots on the vestibular surface. Molars were supplied with four roots. Tri-rooted premolar P3 was the smallest in the tooth row. The lingual surface was convex, flat, containing two folds covered with enamel visible from the vestibular surface. On the masticating surface there is one regularly crescent-shaped funnel with blunt corners.

Figure 2. Auroch teeth Bos primigenius Bojanus

Figure 3. Auroch teeth from the vestibular surface a view from masticating surface.

The next P4 tooth, a little bit bigger than the previous one, with similarly-shaped masticating surface, shows a vaster, irregularly-shaped funnel. On the vestibular surface two notches are visible and three folds of enamel. On the vestibular surface two folds of enamel are separated by a notch. On the masticating surface there are two funnels with a various shape. In the first part there is a wide funnel with narrow tips directed to the vestibular surface. In the second one, this funnel is crescent-shaped. There is a lack of columella from the lingual surface and two funnels are irregularly-shaped. The second molar tooth (M2) is bigger than the previous one. There is a columella from the lingual side between two elements. Two funnels are vast and irregular. There are two notches, two big folds and three smaller ones on the vestibular surface. The third molar tooth is a little bit smaller than the previous one. There is a lack of columella on the lingual surface. There are five almost equal folds of enamel on the vestibular surface.

On the right side there were molars only. Interior nodules in premolars were completely attrited, as well as the exterior ones. There is an explicit star dentine. Information on the dentine surface and funnel surfaces of particular teeth is provided in Table 1.

Figure 1. Methods of measurements: A, tooth length; B, tooth width; C, masticating surface of the tooth; D, masticating surface of the tooth.

Table 1. Metrical features of dentition in auroch from the Tuchola Forest

of tooth *

Length [mm]

Width max [mm]

Width min [mm]

Total surface [mm2]

Funnel surface
A [mm2]

Funnel surface
B [mm2]

Small surface
C [mm2]

Surface A+B+C [mm2]

Right side














































Left side




























*Lack of tooth P2-Right,P2,P3,P4 - Left


The teeth in the auroch described can be considered similar to teeth in contemporary cattle. Blunt edges of enamel, shallow funnels and significant dentine surface show that teeth attrition and the individual's age were quite advanced. The investigation of metrical features proved that the length of the masticating surface as well as its width is increasing in consecutive teeth. It may be concluded that the one of the biggest teeth was the second molar tooth. The third molar tooth, M3, had the lowest level of attrition. The comparison of the masticating surface of auroch teeth with cattle and European bison provides interesting conclusions. The length of M1 in European bison, aged 8-10, was 24 mm (according to Węgrzyn et al. (1997)) and it was similar to the length of the same tooth in auroch. Nevertheless, teeth were diversified when it came to the width. In European bison, aged 10, it was 16 mm (Węgrzyn et al. (1997)), in auroch it was 26.05 mm on the right side and 26.79 mm on the left side. Only the width of teeth P3 and P4 was considered when it came to premolars in the publication reported. The width of premolars in auroch (P3 and P4) was more than double. The large masticating surface and the shape of structures on teeth surface such as nodules, funnels, folds of enamel show that the teeth are adjusted to mincing of plants, e.g. grasses, sedges and herbs. Species that need thick fibrous food, such as tree and bush sprouts (Cervidae and European bison) have a masticating surface that is proportionally smaller. Enamel structures are more distinct, the shape of funnels is a bit different, while edges are very sharp.

Aurochs used to feed on boggy grasslands, river banks and lake shores. Not accidentally, the most numerous osseous debris is found during peat excavation. It was typical forest species connected with the area of inaccessible primeval forests. It used to ensure safety and peaceful mainstay. As a grass-eater, that is substantiated by the type of dentition, auroch was primarily connected with the area of steppes and forest steppes, which is confirmed by the information on the range of the species, Guanfu (1984), Bunzel-Druke (2001), Vuure van (2005). Similar suggestions were provided by Gromow, following Bogolubski (1968). The evidence is the letter from the royal office, giving recommendations for collecting hay by JaktorĂłw forestmen to feed aurochs in the wintertime. It is recommended as well as not to pasture cattle and not to mow the grass in all the places where aurochs have its pasturages (Samsonowicz (1991)). Thanks to observations and experience, it was indicated that grass and hay were the main source of food for animals.


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Accepted for print: 21.12.2011

Responses to this article, comments are invited and should be submitted within three months of the publication of the article. If accepted for publication, they will be published in the chapter headed 'Discussions' and hyperlinked to the article.

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