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Ancient DNA sheds light on domestic cattle

Ancient DNA sheds light on domestic cattle

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Cows are seemingly simple creatures. Their history is anything but. An analysis of ancient genomes from domestic cattle and their wild relatives has uncovered the complex family tree of our milk- and steak-producing charges. The study, published in the journal Science, reveals a history shaped by centuries-long drought and trysts with wild aurochs. European cattle (Bos taurus) were domesticated around 10,500 years ago in a region that today spans parts of Turkey and the Middle East from wild aurochs (Bos primogenius), large beasts that were eventually snuffed out in the seventeenth century. Genetic information from modern cattle indicate that a pool of just 80 female aurochs contributed to this initial domestication event. But analysis of modern genomes can only reveal so much about this early history. One complicating factor is the introduction of genes from zebu (Bos indicus) – the characteristically humped cattle of South Asia that were domesticated around 8000 years ago from…
Source: Ancient DNA sheds light on domestic cattle

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