Such confusion is probably why we still hold this animal to be Bos frontalis.
This cow-like animal is a gayal or mithun. It is a domestic animal in South and Southeast Asia.
If these animals are found to be predominantly gaur in ancestry, one would be more willing to question the validity of Bos frontalis as a legitimate species. The proper name for this animal would be Bos gaurus frontalis.
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Different sources claim that gayal and mithun are different animals or that gayal are directly derived from gaur, while mithun are gayal/cattle hybrids.
The gayal (Bos frontalis), also known as mithun, is a large semi-domesticated bovine distributed in Northeast India, Bangladesh, northern Burma and in Yunnan, China.
(iii) To act as a repository of germplasm and information centre on mithun.
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(i) Identification, evaluation and characterization of mithun germplasm available in the country.
The scientific name for this animal is Bos frontalis. It is in the same genus as the domestic cattle species, and like other members of this genus, it can hybridize with domestic cattle. Apparently, the hybrids between domestic cattle and gayal/mithun are more often fertile.
This particular animal would be called a mithun because it has more cattle-like features than the ones called gayals.
The mandate of the institute was redefined twice in the year 1997 and 2006. Currently, the National Research Centre on Mithun is functioning for developing the scientific and sustainable mithun rearing system and for catering the needs of mithun farmers with the follwing mandates.
The role of the mithun is central to the lives of many residents of these areas, including transhumant ones who pair mithun management with sago palm harvesting:
It also needs to be a study that looks at nuclear DNA– just because mitochondrial DNA studies can be quite inaccurate.
I lean toward it being a domestic gaur with some domestic cattle blood.
There are three hypotheses for what the gayal/mithun actually is.
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But because virtually every study on these animals involves mitotchondrial DNA. we really can’t determine the exact contribution of the domestic cattle species and the gaur in the the gayal or mithun.
In his first description of 1804, Aylmer Bourke Lambert applied the binomial Bos frontalis to a domestic specimen probably from Chittagong.
To the Idu Mishmi, Nyishi people or Adi people (Bangni-Booker Lhobas incl pasi, padam, minyong, Galong now Galo), the possession of gayal is the traditional measure of a family's wealth. Gayal are not milked or put to work but given supplementary care while grazing in the woods, until they are ritually slaughtered or killed for local consumption. Mithun's are wild and each family has a very indigenous marking as a cut on the ear.
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(ii) Conservation and improvement of mithun for meat and milk .
Familia: Bovidae Subfamilia: Bovinae Genus: Bos Subgenus: Bos (Bibos) Species: Bos gaurus Subspecies: B. g. frontalis – B. g. gaurus – B. g. laosiensis – B. g. sinhaleyus
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (2003) ruled that the name for this wild species (Bos gaurus) is not invalid by virtue of being antedated by the name based on the domestic form (Bos frontalis).
It is correct to say that this animal is a gaur/cow hybrid, but it may be that not all animals have cattle ancestry. In fact, I’d be surprised if all of them did.
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Phylogenetic analysis corroborates the taxonomic assessment that the gayal is an independent Bos species originating matrilineally from gaur, zebu and cattle.
The latest research holds that the gayal and mithun are the same thing— and they are domesticated gaur. However, these domesticated gaur have heavily crossbred with both indicus and taurine cattle in some areas.
Gayals are left in the forest, where they usually stay within a small perimeter. Females are usually aggressive when with calves, and there are instances known when people have been severely injured after being gored by one. Male are usually more docile.
In 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature fixed the first available specific name based on a wild population that the name for this wild species is valid by virtue of its being antedated by a name based on a domestic form. Most authors have adopted the binomial Bos frontalis for the domestic species as valid for the taxon.
But we need a larger n study that includes gaur, various types of domestic cattle, and mithun and gayal from different countries in South and Southeast Asia.
Some authorities think of the gayal and mithun as different entities.
This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.
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The gayal is the state animal of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Gayals play an important role in the social life of the people in Arunachal Pradesh. Marriages are not fixed until the bridegroom's family gives at least one gayal to the bride's household.
The National Research centre on Mithun was established at Jharnapani, Dimapur, Nagaland-797106 under Indian Council of Agriculture Research.
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