Skip to comments.Horses First Domesticated In Kazakhstan
Posted on 10/21/2006 5:13:17 PM PDT by blam
Horses First Domesticated in Kazakhstan?
Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News
Oct. 20, 2006 New evidence from soil inside the remains of a 5,600-year-old corral indicates that the ancient Botai people of Kazakhstan were among the earliest to domesticate horses. But equine romantics might be disappointed to learn that the Botai probably ate and milked their horses as often as they rode them.
The corrals are part of an archeological site in northern Kazakhstan known as Krasnyi Yar, once a large village occupied by the Copper-Age Botai, said Sandra Olsen, curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Penn.
Olsen leads a team that has been investigating horse domestication for several years. One of her colleagues, Rosemary Capo, will present a poster with some of chemical soil evidence for horses on Oct. 23 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Philadelphia.
"We really don't understand any major signs of changes in horses with domestication," said Melinda Zeder, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution who specializes in the origins of animal and plant domestication.
Zeder was referring to physical changes in horse bones from ancient middens. Nor, so far, is there a direct way to determine what people were doing with their horses that early on, she said. For these reasons she and her colleagues have been building their case with less direct evidence.
"Here's an approach to documenting horse domestication that's extremely new," said Zeder. "Sort of like Perry Mason, they're building circumstantial evidence."
That evidence comes from circular arrangements of posts and the soil differences found inside and outside the corral. Inside the corral, the soil contained up to ten times the phosphorus as outside soils, but lower concentrations of nitrogen. That's what you'd expect if the soil there was enriched with horse manure. Modern horse manure, for comparison, is loaded with phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen. The nitrogen is the easiest to lose to groundwater or the air.
Phosphorus, on the other hand, can be held in place by calcium and iron, says Capo, a geologist who did the soil analyses with Michael Rosenmeier and undergraduates Andy Stiff and James Gardiner of the University of Pittsburgh.
"High phosphorous could also indicate human occupation," said Capo, "but that's usually accompanied by other geochemical signatures, which we didn't find in the corral samples."
The People who domesticated the horse can be found on this thread:
Their ancestors who were chowing down on penned up horses were doing so further back in time than Abraham is from us.
This week's story about goat domestication is far more interesting ~ 5 lineages from ancient times ~ and not too far from where the horse thing happened.
You do subscribe, right? Else I'll have to bring it in here later (when we can get an easy reference to it).
No, I don't subscribe to Science News. If you have anything on goats to mention, that would be cool, of course.
Among other "findings" the researchers said it looks like goats and sheep were domesticated at about the same time in the same places, and from the beginning have ran in mixed herds, just like they do today.
I think of the goats as the first serious insurance policy ~ no matter what happens to your other animals, or your crops, goats will survive ~
I'm a subscriber to Science News but, I think I posted an article on FR already about the goats. Let me look around a bit. I'll link or post something, lol.
October 14, 2006
Present-day domestic goats may look humble, but they harbor more genetic diversity than any other livestock species. In fact, analyses of goats' mitochondrial DNA have shown that these animals evolved through five distinct maternal lines that spread from the Near East and central Asia across Europe.
ANCIENT MOVERS. Modern goats such as these derived from several ancient lineages, including two introduced to Europe about 7,000 years ago from the Near East. Taberlet
A new study indicates that goats representing the earliest two of the five genetic lines inhabited the same location in southwestern Europe by about 7,000 years ago, only 3,000 years after the initial domestication of the animals in the Near East.
This ancient genetic diversity in a region far from the goat strains' origins reflects the long-distance transport of goats from the Near East by European pioneers soon after the origins of animal domestication, farming, and village life, say geneticist Pierre Taberlet of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, and his colleagues in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Today's other three genetic lines arose later in parts of central Asia, Taberlet's group proposes.
The scientists analyzed mitochondrial DNA retrieved from 19 goat bones found at an ancient farming site in southern France. Other researchers had excavated these fossils about 20 years ago in soil that contained the remains of more than 5,000 animals, including pigs, cattle, and sheep.
New radiocarbon measurements of five goat bones placed them at between 7,300 and 6,900 years old.
By extracting and analyzing genetic material from several goat bones, two independent laboratories confirmed that the sequences that Taberlet's group examined were uncontaminated, ancient DNA.
Comparisons of the ancient goat mitochondrial DNA with sequences of modern goat DNA revealed that the two Near Eastern lineages had inhabited the prehistoric French site at the same time.
Taberlet and his colleagues suspect that early farmers transported each line of goats into Europe along a separate westward route, one inland and the other running along the Mediterranean Sea.
A preference for moving goats long distances in ancient times makes sense (SN: 5/12/01, p. 294: Available to subscribers at http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20010512/fob5.asp).
Goats are the hardiest livestock species. They're easy to transport by land or boat, and they willingly follow people.
The new data convincingly show the domestication of two ancient goat lineages at the same time somewhere in the Fertile Crescent region, remarks archaeobiologist Melinda A. Zeder of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Genetic studies of modern domestic sheep have revealed a pattern similar to that of goats, with three to four ancient lineages, Zeder notes. "This suggests that both sheep and goats moved together, as they do today, in mixed herds as they diffused out of the Near East," she says.
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Domesticated goats show unique gene mix
Goats have long been a favorite of farmers for good reason. They can survive on seemingly inedible scraps of vegetation in the harshest environments. And they provide milk, meat, skin, and fibers without taking up much space.
After domestication of the Eurasian wild bezoar, shown here, transport and trading of goats may have fostered a high degree of genetic unity in these animals.
Those qualities go a long way toward explaining why domesticated goats in Europe, Africa, and Asia share a striking degree of genetic similarity, according to the scientists who discovered the pattern.
The surprising amount of genetic unity among far-flung goat populations reflects these versatile animals' popularity as portable trading items in ancient times, contend geneticist Gordon Luikart of Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, and his coworkers. That mobility, which extended across continents, prevented goats in different parts of the world from developing regional genetic signatures, Luikart says.
"Goats might have played an important role in historical human colonizations, migrations, and commerce," he and his coworkers propose in the May 8 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Unlike goats, cattle and other domesticated animals were bred in various locations without much mixing of animals from separate geographic regions. Earlier analyses found that these creatures display different genetic patterns from one continent to another.
Luikart's team obtained blood samples from 406 goats representing 88 domesticated breeds and from 14 wild goats, each of a different species. The animals came from Europe, Africa, and Asia. For each blood sample, the scientists extracted mitochondrial DNA, genetic material that's passed exclusively from mothers to their offspring.
An analysis of differences in genetic sequence along a specific stretch of mitochondrial DNA revealed three goat groups that arose from genetically distinct populations. Today, their distributions overlap.
Those three populations, in turn, emerged from a common maternal ancestor that lived around 200,000 years ago, the researchers estimate.
To date goat domestication, the scientists next examined sequences in another stretch of mitochondrial DNA. For this analysis, they used the genetic material of two goats from each of the three genetic lineages.
Patterns of genetic diversity indicated that one lineage experienced marked population growtha sign of domesticationabout 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. Archaeologists have already proposed that goat domestication first occurred at that time in what is now western Iran (SN: 4/8/00, p. 235).
The other two genetic lineages expanded more recently, one in western Asia around 6,000 years ago and the other in southeastern Asia about 2,000 years ago.
Goats may indeed have been traded widely in the ancient world, say two Irish researchers in a commentary published with the new study. Goat genetic history will probably get revised further as scientists examine more mitochondrial samples and probe male lineages using the Y chromosome, say David E. MacHugh of University College and Daniel G. Bradley of Trinity College, both in Dublin.
"There should be plenty more surprises in store," MacHugh and Bradley conclude.
That's because women haven't been domesticated yet.
Thanks for the goat stories. I love goats.
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Wow, look at those horns. Exactly the reason we dehorned our goat kids early.
According to Borat, They also pioneered the art of Jew throwing.
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