Breaking Down Science, Step by Step
Breaking Down Science, Step by Step

Seriously, Don't have a cow

Illustration for article titled Seriously, Dont have a cow

The incident occurred on the outskirts of Rome, Italy. The farmer had been found in his own yard at midnight, the only witness was a calf found next to his half naked body.


When neighbours were asked about the man's personality, most of them remarked that he was shy, and disliked speaking to people. He was however particularly close to his animals, in particular the calf that he had been found next to on that fateful night. He would talk to it as if it were his friend. He used to own a female calf as well, but apparently sold it out of "jealousy".

When the coroner examined the man's body, he noticed a strange bruise left on the man's chest. Whatever object had left that impression had struck with enough force to shatter the man's ribcage, lacerating his lungs. The impression was hoof shaped. He'd been killed by a cow.


Nevertheless, the circumstances surrounding this death remain obscure to this day. Cows are generally docile, and deaths like this tend to be rare. As the investigators put it:

Although the cause of death in our case could be determined, the circumstances and the manner of death remain speculative to some degree.


The investigators were very careful in their phrasing when writing about this event for the Journal of Science, Medicine and Law. The truth is, whilst we can speculate on the sequence of events leading up to this death, we can never really know for certain what happened.

We cannot truly say for certain what the intentions of this farmer were when he left his house to approach his favourite calf wearing only boots and a hitched up shirt as the sun dimmed over Rome. Nor can we say with a hundred percent certainty what course of events caused the calf to kick out so violently at its owner. The only witnesses were the sheep, and they aren't talking.


De Giorgio F., Polacco M., Rossi R., Lodise M. & Rainio J. (2009). Fatal blunt injuries possibly resulting from sexual abuse of a calf, Medicine, Science and the Law, 49 (4) 307-310. DOI: 10.1258/rsmmsl.49.4.307 -

Image- Hosted on Pixabay drawn by Nemo

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