Skip to comments.Domestication Of The Donkey May Have Taken A Long Time
Posted on 03/13/2008 6:36:00 PM PDT by blam
Domestication Of The Donkey May Have Taken A Long Time
An international group of researchers has found evidence for the earliest transport use of the donkey and the early phases of donkey domestication, suggesting the process of domestication may have been slower and less linear than previously thought. (Credit: iStockphoto/Andrea Laurita)
ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2008) An international group of researchers has found evidence for the earliest transport use of the donkey and the early phases of donkey domestication, suggesting the process of domestication may have been slower and less linear than previously thought.
Based on a study of 10 donkey skeletons from three graves dedicated to donkeys in the funerary complex of one of the first Pharaoh's at Abydos, Egypt, the team, led by Fiona Marshall, Ph.D., professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, and Stine Rossel of the University of Copenhagen, found that donkeys around 5,000 years ago were in an early phase of domestication. They looked like wild animals but displayed joint wear that showed that they were used as domestic animals.
"Genetic research has suggested African origins for the donkey," said Marshall. "But coming up with an exact time and location for domestication is difficult because signs of early domestication can be hard to see. Our findings show that traces of human management can indicate domestication before skeletal or even genetic changes."
Domestication of the donkey from the African wild ass was a pivotal point in human history. It transformed ancient transport systems in Africa and Asia and the organization of early cities and pastoral societies.
The research team examined the 5,000-year-old Abydos skeletons along with 53 modern donkey and African wild ass skeletons. Analysis showed that the Abydos metacarpals were similar in overall proportions to those of wild ass, but individual measurements varied. Mid-shaft breadths resembled wild ass, but mid-shaft depths and distal breadths were intermediate between wild ass and domestic donkey.
Despite this, all the Abydos skeletons exhibited a range of wear and other pathologies on their bones consistent with load carrying. Morphological similarities to wild ass show that despite their use as beasts of burden, donkeys were still undergoing considerable phenotypic change during the early dynastic period in Egypt. This pattern is consistent with recent studies of other domestic animals that suggest that the process of domestication is slower and more complicated than had been previously thought.
The previously unpublished research was presented in "Domestication of the Donkey: New Data on Timing, Process and Indicators" in the March 10 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Adapted from materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Careful where you give that jump command.
General Sherman tamed a few in Georgia, a hundred-some years ago.
I wonder what his secret was?
I suppose you could train a donkey to collect some coin and find an old, use Hammond organ somewhere. Now that would be an act I'd watch.
Pheeew! Whata a relief! I can sleep well now.
Glad you mentioned that. I was thinking of a bumper sticker for this year's campaign (if Baraq and the Nominatrix got on the same nightmare ticket):
BUY ONE SURRENDER MONKEY, GET ONE FREE
However, I realized I'd probably go to prison for that one, given the present atmosphere of political sensitivity. Soooo, I thought why not:
BUY ONE SURRENDER DONKEY, GET ONE FREE
The finishing touch would be the red-circle-slash logo over the 'D' on 'donkey'. Think that might be a bumper sticker that would stick?
I love the humor that exists within FR, but wonder sometimes about it's wholesale application.
Thanks Blam, for an interesting and constructive post.
It's another wild ass topic. Thanks Blam. Nice to see a link to that other one as well (ahem). ;')
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Maybe they were feral, rather than wild per se. :’)
What you said, me too.
Maybe the guy who owned all the donkeys didn’t want his family to have them after he passed on...
Much like a rich guy who gives away all his wealth when he dies to keep it out of the hands of his spoiled, adult children.
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