Wednesday, 31st January 2007 by Alex Turnbull
In the desert of Mali, West Africa, we find the skull of an ex-cow, which was captured as part of the National Geographic Africa Megaflyover project. By the look of those horns, I’d say the skull probably once belonged to an N’dama, a species of cattle which is indigenous to this part of world.
The term ‘cattle’ isn’t a plural, but a mass noun, so you can refer to “some cattle”, but not “three cattle”. Rarely for the modern English language, there is no singular equivalent to “cattle” other than the various gender and age-specific terms – i.e. “a cow” actually only refers to an adult female who has had more than two calves.
Which explains why “the skull of an ex-cattle” didn’t sound right…
Thanks to Felippo and googleearthhacks.