DNA answers horse domestication origin

2012-05-08 14:29
London - A genetic study of horses across Eastern Europe and Central Asia has traced the domestication of one of man's most powerful animal allies to wide-open grasslands shared by Ukraine, southwest Russia and Kazakhstan, researchers said.

Researchers generally date domestication to about 6 000 years ago, but genetic evidence taken from modern-day horses has suggested a wide variety of ancestors, raising the possibility that horses were tamed independently in several different places.

The University of Cambridge's Vera Warmuth said she and her colleagues had used a combination of genetics and math to narrow down the origin of horse domestication to the "western Eurasian steppe" - an area now shared by Kazhakstan, southwest Russia and Ukraine.

The research followed 16 years of collecting hair samples from more than 300 horses in Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Lithuania - areas where horses were the first to be domesticated and weren't too heavily bred.

Warmuth said that fellow researchers took hair samples from "local village-type horses", simple animals whose genetic profiles would be less likely to have been deformed by inbreeding or crossbreeding typical of their Western European cousins.

Diversity

She said the horses' genetic profiles were compared to various scenarios plugged into established mathematical models that measure how populations spread and change over time.

The results suggested that the wide diversity of horse DNA could be explained by the frequent breeding of domesticated male horses with wild mares brought in by early horseback riders because "breeding with existing stock was too slow", Warmuth said, speculating that early societies might have used wild females "because they're a bit more tractable".

Mark Thomas, a professor of evolutionary genetics at University College London who wasn't involved with the research, said he believed the methodology was sound.

The research, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by Britain's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the London-based Leverhulme Trust.
- AP
Read more on:    animals  |  genetics
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.