The latest internet sensation is a cow. Or more accurately, a giant steer (a castrated male) by the name of Knickers. The nearly two-meter-tall, 1,400kg Holstein Friesian has grown so much that he stands out like a sore thumb among his herd and has become a viral online celebrity. So why has this happened to Knickers — incidentally saving his life as his owners have decided to keep the unusual specimen back from the slaughter?
There are several reasons why animals can grow to much larger sizes than we consider normal. If it’s just a single specimen, the most likely cause of its gigantism is acromegaly, a condition in which the body produces an excess of growth hormone because of an abnormality in the pituitary gland.