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Pig Domestication and Human-Mediated Dispersal in Western Eurasia Revealed through Ancient DNA and Geometric Morphometrics

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

Zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that wild boar were domesticated independently in the Near East by at least 8,500 BC. By examining pig bones recovered from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Cayonu Tepesi (10,000–6,300 BC) in southeastern Anatolia identified a disproportionate decrease in molar tooth size over two millennia.

They interpreted this pattern to be the result of a long-term in situ domestication process that led to the emergence of morphologically domestic pigs by 6,800 BC (early Pottery Neolithic). Similar, though contentious, claims for human controlled pig breeding between 8,200 and 7,500 BC have been made at Cafer Höyük and Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia.

The introduction of wild boar to Cyprus by at least 9,700–9,400 BC, however, indicates that humans were actively manipulating wild boar populations for millennia before the emergence of domestic pigs.

Though the zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that pigs were first domesticated in Southwest Asia, virtually all modern domestic pigs from western Eurasia possess mitochondrial signatures similar (or identical) to European wild boar. Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar.

The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from Anatolia by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC.

Abstract

Zooarcheological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated in Southwest Asia ∼8,500 BC. They then spread across the Middle and Near East and westward into Europe alongside early agriculturalists. European pigs were either domesticated independently or more likely appeared so as a result of admixture between introduced pigs and European wild boar.

As a result, European wild boar mtDNA lineages replaced Near Eastern/Anatolian mtDNA signatures in Europe and subsequently replaced indigenous domestic pig lineages in Anatolia. The specific details of these processes, however, remain unknown.

To address questions related to early pig domestication, dispersal, and turnover in the Near East, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA and dental geometric morphometric variation in 393 ancient pig specimens representing 48 archeological sites (from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Medieval period) from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Our results reveal the first genetic signatures of early domestic pigs in the Near Eastern Neolithic core zone. We also demonstrate that these early pigs differed genetically from those in western Anatolia that were introduced to Europe during the Neolithic expansion.

In addition, we present a significantly more refined chronology for the introduction of European domestic pigs into Asia Minor that took place during the Bronze Age, at least 900 years earlier than previously detected.

By the 5th century AD, European signatures completely replaced the endemic lineages possibly coinciding with the widespread demographic and societal changes that occurred during the Anatolian Bronze and Iron Ages.

Introduction

The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture is one of the most important biocultural processes in human history. Though this transition took place in numerous locations across the globe, the earliest stages of animal domestication in western Eurasia are recorded in the northern Fertile Crescent in the 9th millennium BC. Recent evidence suggests that the establishment of food production was followed by rapid population growth and agropastoral economies often spread through demic diffusion. This was certainly the case for Southwest Asia where, following the development of agricultural economies, farmers migrated into Europe during the Neolithic bringing with them domestic crops and livestock.

The increased resolving power of new genetic and morphometric techniques has allowed for the identification of fine-scale population differences across wide temporal and geographic contexts and the capability of tracking these differences through time and space. For example, DNA derived from modern animal and plant domesticates have been used to unravel geographic origins and dispersal patterns. The use of modern data alone, however, can be problematic. Past domestic populations often underwent dramatic bottlenecks, demographic fluctuations (including complete replacement), and admixture with wild relatives, thus obscuring the genetic signatures of earlier populations.

Analyses of ancient DNA (aDNA) have overcome this issue by typing (pre)historic populations and allowing for the direct observation of genetic signatures through time. This approach has generated new insights related to past genetic diversity, wild–domestic hybridization, and human migration. Similarly, novel morphometric methods, including geometric morphometrics (GMM), have been successfully applied to document changes between wild and domestic animals and plants and to track the phenotypic evolution of past populations.

Zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that wild boar were domesticated independently in the Near East by at least 8,500 BC. By examining pig bones recovered from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Cayonu Tepesi (10,000–6,300 BC) in southeastern Anatolia, identified a disproportionate decrease in molar tooth size over two millennia. They interpreted this pattern to be the result of a long-term in situ domestication process that led to the emergence of morphologically domestic pigs by 6,800 BC (early Pottery Neolithic). Similar, though contentious, claims for human controlled pig breeding between 8,200 and 7,500 BC have been made at Cafer Höyük and Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia. The introduction of wild boar to Cyprus by at least 9,700–9,400 BC, however, indicates that humans were actively manipulating wild boar populations for millennia before the emergence of domestic pigs.

Though the zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that pigs were first domesticated in Southwest Asia, virtually all modern domestic pigs from western Eurasia possess mitochondrial signatures similar (or identical) to European wild boar. Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar. The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from Anatolia by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC.

By 3,900 BC, however, virtually all domestic pigs in Europe possessed haplotypes originally only found in European wild boar. This genetic turnover may have resulted from the accumulated introgression of local female wild boar into imported domestic stocks or from an indigenous European domestication process. After the genetic turnover had taken place in Europe, aDNA from Armenian pigs indicated that European domestic pigs were present in the Near East by the 7th century BC at the end of the Iron Age where they replaced indigenous Near Eastern domestic mtDNA lineages. Crucially, the archeological record attests to rapid demographic and societal changes during the Late Bronze Age (1,600–1,200 BC) and Iron Age (1,200–600 BC), including large-scale migrations and the expansion of trade and exchange networks across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

To establish a more precise geographic and temporal framework of mitochondrial Sus haplotypes in Anatolia and to address questions related to the mitochondrial turnover in Armenia at the end of the Iron Age, we obtained mitochondrial sequences from 39 modern wild boar and 393 archeological wild and domestic pigs from 48 Near Eastern sites spanning the Pottery Neolithic (∼7,000 BC) to the 15th century AD from western Turkey to southwestern Iran. We analyzed our novel data alongside previously published ancient and modern sequences. In addition, we performed a dental morphological assessment of 46 archeological specimens (with known genetic haplotypes) using traditional osteometric and GMM methods to assess the correlation between genetic and morphometric variation.

Pig Domestication and Human-Mediated Dispersal in Western Eurasia Revealed through Ancient DNA and Geometric Morphometrics

The comings and goings of Near Eastern and European domestic pigs (Ottoni et al. 2012)

Posted in Domestication, Haplogroups, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

Archaeologists Find Earliest Known Domestic Horses: Harnessed and Milked

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 18, 2013

An international team of archaeologists has uncovered the earliest known evidence of horses being domesticated by humans. The discovery suggests that horses were both ridden and milked. The findings could point to the very beginnings of horse domestication and the origins of the horse breeds we know today. Led by the Universities of Exeter and Bristol (UK), the research is published on Friday 6 March 2009 in journal Science.

The researchers have traced the origins of horse domestication back to the Botai Culture of Kazakhstan circa 5,500 years ago. This is about 1,000 years earlier than thought and about 2,000 years earlier than domestic horses are known to have been in Europe. Their findings strongly suggest that horses were originally domesticated, not just for riding, but also to provide food, including milk.

Archaeologists Find Earliest Known Domestic Horses: Harnessed and Milked

Evidence Found For Early Horse Domestication In Kazakhstan

Researchers Solve The Mystery Of Horse Domestication

Ancient Horses Help To Unlock The Past

Domestication of the horse

Endangered Horse Has Ancient Origins And High Genetic Diversity

Endangered Horse Has Ancient Origins And High Genetic Diversity

First Przewalski’s Horse Born As A Result Of Artificial Insemination

Posted in Domestication | Leave a Comment »

DNA traces cattle back to a small herd domesticated around 10,500 years ago

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 18, 2013

Blond cow

Of the domesticated species, discussions about cattle have been particularly controversial in recent years, due to genetic studies that have attempted to determine their origins. The controversial element of the discussions comes from the use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).

It is generally agreed that cattle were very important – they could be used not only for meat, hides and dairy products, but also for ploughing, traction and transportation. People kept cattle around for easy access to food, including milk, blood, and meat, and for use as load-bearers and plows.

Studies into cattle genetics of different areas have suggested three possible origins of domestication:  Africa, the Near East (possibly Mesopotamia), and southwest Turkey. However, in Africa, at least, a local origin is partially supported by the finds of cattle in the southeastern Western Desert, where it is thought that cattle were herded before plant cultivation was established.

The archaeological record for the domestication of wild forms of cattle (Bos primigenius) indicates that the process occurred independently at least twice and perhaps three times.

The taurine (humpless, B. taurus) was probably domesticated somewhere in the Fertile Crescent about 8,000 years ago. Taurine cattle were apparently traded across the planet, and appear in archaeological sites of northeastern Asia (China, Mongolia, Korea) about 5000 years ago.

Evidence for domesticated zebu (humped cattle, B. indicus) has been discovered at the site of Mehrgahr, in the Indus Valley of Pakistan, about 7,000 years ago, while scholars are divided about the likelihood of a third domestication event, in Africa.

The earliest domesticated cattle in Africa have been found at Capeletti, Algeria, about 6500 BP, but Bos remains are found at African sites in what is now Egypt, such as Nabta Playa and Bir Kiseiba as long ago as 9,000 years, and they may be domesticated. If these remains were indeed domesticated, then they represent the first event of domesticating cattle.

Recent mitochondrial DNA studies support the archaeological notion of multiple domestication events, with genetics indicating that breeds domesticated in the Near East and introduced into Europe where they mixed with local wild animals (aurochs), and with African domesticated cattle.

Although the site of Rosenkof in northern Germany has been the focus of some discussion arguing in support of an independent European domestication of cattle, aDNA evidence does not support such a designation, and no evidence for local domestication of cattle in Europe has been identified.

In addition, a 2010 publication suggests that African cattle are also likely descended from previously domesticated cattle in the Near East and/or Indus Valley.

Important sites include Mehrgahr, Pakistan; Catalhoyuk, Turkey; Capeletti, Algeria; Nabta Playa, Egypt; Uan Muhuggiag, Libya; and Bir Kiseiba, Egypt.

An international team of scientists from the CNRS and National Museum of Natural History in France, the University of Mainz in Germany, and UCL in the UK were able to conduct the study by first extracting DNA from the bones of domestic cattle excavated in Iranian archaeological sites. These sites date to not long after the invention of farming and are in the region where cattle were first domesticated.

The team examined how small differences in the DNA sequences of those ancient cattle, as well as cattle living today, could have arisen given different population histories. Using computer simulations they found that the DNA differences could only have arisen if a small number of animals, approximately 80, were domesticated from wild ox (aurochs).

According to the genetic study all cattle are descended from as few as 80 animals that were domesticated from wild ox in the Near East some 10,500 years ago.

DNA traces cattle back to a small herd domesticated around 10,500 years ago

Cattle – History of the Domestication of the Cow

Posted in Domestication | Leave a Comment »

 
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