Ancient DNA Shows Horses Paid A Price For Their Domestication

Humans are believed to have domesticated the horse around 5,500 years ago. And the effects of domestication–including some deleterious ones–can be seen in the genomes of modern-day horses, according to a new study.

“We provide the most extensive list of gene candidates that have been favored by humans following the domestication of horses,” study co-author Dr. Beth Shapiro, head of the Paleogenomics Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a written statement. “This list is fascinating as it includes a number of genes involved in the development of muscle and bones. This probably reveals the genes that helped [in] utilizing horses for transportation.”

For the study, researchers examined DNA taken from 29 horse bones unearthed in Siberia that date back 16,000 to 43,000 years, Reuters reported. Then the researchers compared that DNA to DNA from five breeds of modern domesticated horse.

The analysis identified 125 separate genes that are believed to have played a key role in the domestication process.

For instance, “we identify genes controlling animal behavior and the response to fear,” study co-author Dr. Ludovic Orlando, associate professor in the Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen —> Read More Here


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