Science
5:10 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

UT Scientists Trace Genetic Origins of Longhorn Cattle

New research out of the University of Texas at Austin finds Bevo, the school’s mascot, and other Texas Longhorn cattle are direct descendants of the first cattle to arrive in North America.

The study of the Longhorn genome finds the cattle’s lineage can be traced back 10,000 years to India and the Middle East. Researchers looked at 50,000 genetic markers of different cattle breeds. They used that information to track the Longhorns’ ancestors from the Middle East and India, to Europe and eventually to North America. 

“It’s a real Texas story, an American story,” said Emily Jane McTavish, the UT graduate student who led the research. “Some of these hybrid cattle were included in the cattle that Columbus brought and other Spanish colonists when they came to the New World.”

McTavish says Longhorns arrived in what would become Texas sometime near the end of the 1600s.

The research is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.