The story of the turs

In ancient times, two-meter giants could have been walking around Transcarpathia, but there are no written evidences on them


Turyi Remety, Turya Bystra, Turya Pasika, Turya Polyana, Turytsya, Turychky … They say that the names of all these villages in Perechyn district are derived from the name of an ancestor of cattle – the mighty giant tur, or the wild ox. "Strayj Zamok" decided to find out if it is true that herds of turs once walked in Transcarpathia, or is it just a legend.

The wild tur ox once inhabited a vast territory from North Africa to Northern Europe and from the Middle East to the Pacific. Now we can only guess how they looked like through the bones, which archaeologists find around the world, and through ancient frescoes, including Egyptian.

Turs were very large animals. They weighed approximately 1200 kg and were 2 meters high. These animals were distinguished by huge horns that resembled the shape of a lyre, and black or brown shade of short hair. According to legends, the turs were very wild tempered (in this they were similar to rhinos), they were quite aggressive, turbulent, strong and fast. That is why hunting this animal was considered a military feat, and strong and mighty men were compared with turs.

These bulls remained in remote forests of Poland and Lithuania for the longest period. In XVI-XVII centuries they remained in only one area – in the woods near the modern city of Jaktorow, near Warsaw. Now no one can say when tours disappeared from the territory of modern Ukraine, but the image of a mighty animal was preserved in numerous tales, legends, songs.

Ph.D. in Biological Sciences of UzhNU Ludwig Potish says, that there is no reliable evidences that herds of turs lived in the territory of modern Transcarpathia.

The local historian Vasyl Korol, who has been studying the history of the so-called Turya Valley for meny years, agrees with this view. "The maps of 1775-1778 years show villages with names just as Remete, Bystra, Pasika, Polyana, and only in 1850 the Hungarian government began to add "Turya" to the names of these villages – says Mr. Vasyl. – Perhaps this was done in order to distinguish these villages from other ones of the same name, because in our region there were several Pasikas, Polyanas, Bystras, Remetes. In addition, there were settlements with similar or even the same names on the territory of Romania, Slovakia." So where did the prefix "Turya" come from? It turns out that it is derived from the river of the same name.

Today scientists are actively working to return extinct animals. By the method of the so-called return derivation they already managed to breed turs, very similar to the original. But biologists want to go even further, taking DNA from tur’s bone and literally resurrect them.

What then the scientists will do with enormous and very dangerous animals is not yet known. However, it is possible that in a few decades turs again will be walking in their original habitats, say, in Ukrainian steppe or in special nurseries somewhere in the Carpathians.

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