An event that happened in Indonesia three years back rocked the scientific community as it reached a larger audience recently. In 2011, the island of Madura off the northeastern coast of Java saw the births of an extraordinary creature. News of the event reached across the country, with the reactions ranging from repulsion to awe. The creature in question was supposedly a result of the mating of a cow and a wolf, though the word “wolf” may be a mistranslation. Being an island, the chances of it being a wolf are slim unless one was specifically kept as a pet, or had escaped from a zoo.
What exactly happened?
On the 2nd of February, a creature was born that was supposedly a hybrid of a canine and a bovine. It was born to a farmer who has been identified from reports as “Misnoto”. Since cattle are revered as sacred in eastern Asia, people have even reacted with religious awe. The creature was born early on a Wednesday morning in the hamlet of Katuje in the Gate District of Sumenep in Madura. While the body was typically bovine, the mouth was very dog-like. The mouth extends to nearly its ears and it has large jaws. This is typical of many carnivores, but not typical of herbivores. Interestingly, the farmer reported that the creature was unwilling to have grass like it’s mother. Instead, it preferred to have milk and human snacks. This definitely points to a dog-like digestive system. The farmer also reported that it was feeding it milk by hand as it’s mouth structure rendered it unable to suckle from it’s mother. It consumed 3 liters of milk per day, reports said.
A vet was contacted and asked whether sewing the creature’s mouth back together would be beneficial or not. The vet is reported to have replied that any reconstructive surgery on its mouth would leave it unable to chew, further strengthening the case for it being a carnivore.
What sorts of animals were it’s parents?
The mother was a cow. The species of cow is native to Indonesia in general and to the island of Madura in particular. Maduran farmers do not keep European cattle, called Bo Taurus. They instead keep Bo Javanicus, the banteng cow or a hybrid cow native to Madura, a hybrid of Bo javanicus and Bo indicus. The father is supposedly a wolf. Wolves are not noted for their willingness to mate freely with other species. Dogs, on the other hand, have been seen mating with a wide variety of other species. Keeping this information in mind, the father is more likely to be a dog than a wolf.
Is this an isolated incident?
May 12, 1915 saw a similar incident being reported in the Lewiston Evening Journal in Maine. The specimen that was reported was a taxidermy sample where the body was that of a calf, while the head was abnormally large. The head is remarkable similar to a bulldog’s, furthering evidence that this was a hybrid of a cow and dog specifically. The ears are where a dog’s would typically be, high back on the head instead of beside the forehead. The eyes are bulging, and the neck is short. The hips are those of a dog, as well as the back legs. Queerly, this specimen had split hoofs on short legs. It also sat down like a dog, and stood low on the ground.
Does this happen often?
The latter example was born alive and lived for only three hours. This is not atypical of animals born with shocking mutations like these. Genetic mutations that have effects like these are well documented and they generally do not live through to adulthood. Polycephaly is one of the most well-documented of these mutations, though other aberrations do occurs which may make things appear to be hybrids of others.