38. Bovinae (aka Cattle) - 50 points(3 of 20 lists. Highest ranking - #2 Imrahil)
Cattle, colloquially referred to as cows (though technically cow refers only to female bovines), are domesticated ungulates. They are raised as livestock for meat (called beef and veal), dairy products (milk), leather and as draft animals (pulling carts, plows and the like). Cattle have one stomach, with four compartments. They are the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, the rumen being the largest compartment. Cattle are ruminants, meaning that they have a digestive system that allows them to utilize otherwise indigestible foods by repeatedly regurgitating and rechewing them as "cud." The cud is then reswallowed and further digested by specialized microorganisms that live in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for breaking down cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids (VFAs) that cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel.
Cattle occupy a unique role in human history, domesticated since at least the early Neolithic. They are raised for meat (beef cattle), milk (dairy cattle), and hides. They are also used as draft animals and in certain sports. Some consider cattle the oldest form of wealth, and cattle raiding consequently one of the earliest forms of theft. In Portugal, Spain, Southern France and some Latin American countries, bulls are used in the sport of bullfighting while a similar sport, Jallikattu, is seen in South India; in many other countries this is illegal. Other sports such as bull riding are seen as part of a rodeo, especially in North America. Bull-leaping, a central ritual in Bronze Age Minoan culture (see Bull (mythology)), still exists in south-western France. The outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) have limited some traditional uses of cattle for food, for example the eating of brains or spinal cords.
Cows are venerated within the Hindu religion of India. According to Vedic scripture they are to be treated with the same respect 'as one's mother' because of the milk they provide; "The cow is my mother. The bull is my sire." They appear in numerous stories from the Puranas and Vedas, for example the deity Krishna is brought up in a family of cowherders, and given the name Govinda (protector of the cows). Also Shiva is traditionally said to ride on the back of a bull named Nandi. Bulls in particular are seen as a symbolic emblem of selfless duty and religion. In ancient rural India every household had a few cows which provided a constant supply of milk and a few bulls that helped as draft animals. Many Hindus feel that at least it was economically wise to keep cattle for their milk rather than consume their flesh for one single meal.