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The biological subfamily Bovinae includes a diverse group of 10 genera of medium to large sized ungulates, including domestic cattle, the bison, African Buffalo, the water buffalo, the yak, and the four-horned and spiral-horned antelopes. The evolutionary relationship between the members of the group is obscure, and their classification into loose tribes rather than formal sub-groups reflects this uncertainty. General characteristics include cloven hoofs and usually at least one of the sexes of a species having true horn.

In most countries, bovines are used for food. Cattle are eaten almost everywhere except in some parts of Indiamarker and Nepalmarker, where bovines are considered sacred by Hindus.


The closest relations to this subfamily are the Boselaphini and Tragelaphini tribes. There are 13 extant members. These species appear to have evolved over the last 5-8 million years. The first clade to diverge was the Buffalo clade (Bubalus and Syncerus species). This was followed by the Banteng/Gaur/Mithan clade and the domestic cattle clade. A fourth clade leading to the Bison and Yak species may also exist.

Systematics and classification


Bovine is derived from Latin bos, "ox", through Late Latin bovinus. Bos comes from the Indo-European root *gwous, meaning ox.


  • International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 2003. Opinion 2027 (Case 3010). Usage of 17ΔбГ specific names based on wild species which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Bull.Zool.Nomencl., 60:81-84.

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