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Donkey domestication happened 7,000 years back in Africa: DNA study

A man rides on donkey-cart through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains in Jacobabad, Pakistan
A guy rides on donkey-cart by way of a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains in Jacobabad, Pakistan.

Despite transforming history as beasts of burden needed for transporting goods and folks, the humble donkey is definitely woefully understudied.

But scientists on Thursday took a large step towards clarifying the species’ origins with a thorough genomic analysis of 238 ancient and modern donkeys, finding these were likely domesticated in one event in eastern Africa some 7,000 years back.

The paper, published in the journal Science, was the consequence of a global collaboration led by Evelyn Todd at the Centre for Anthropobiology and Genomics of Toulouse, France.

“Donkeys subsequently spread into Eurasia from ~2500 BCE, and Central and Eastern Asian subpopulations differentiated ~2000 to 1000 BCE,” the team wrote.

Eventually, lineages from Europe and the Near East backbred into western African donkey populations.

Horses, their equid cousins, are believed however to possess been domesticated twicethe first-time around 6,000 years back in the western Eurasian steppes.

The donkey DNA study included three jennies (females) and six jacks (males) from a historical Roman site in France who have been closely interbred.

The authors claim that Romans bred improved donkey bloodlines to create mules which were necessary to sustaining the military and economic might of the empire.

Donkeys were crucial to the development of ancient societies and remain important in middle and low income countries, but lost their status and utility in modern industrial societies, perhaps explaining why these were neglected by science.



More info: Evelyn T. Todd et al, The genomic history and global expansion of domestic donkeys, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abo3503. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abo3503

2022 AFP

Citation: Donkey domestication happened 7,000 years back in Africa: DNA study (2022, September 10) retrieved 11 September 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-donkey-domestication-years-africa-dna.html

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