Ancient DNA bucks tale of how the horse was tamed | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News

Ancient DNA bucks tale of how the horse was tamed

Modern-day breeding, not domestication, winnowed genetic diversity

By
2:00pm, April 27, 2017
Mongolian horses

RIDE ON  Mongolian horses (shown) and other present-day horse breeds have less genetic diversity than domesticated horses did around 2,000 years ago.

DNA from 2,000-year-old stallions is helping rewrite the story of horse domestication.

Ancient domesticated horses had much more genetic diversity than their present-day descendants do, researchers report in the April 28 Science. In particular, these ancient horses had many more varieties of Y chromosomes and fewer harmful mutations than horses do now. Previous studies based on the genetics of modern horses concluded that domestication must have squeezed out much of the diversity seen in wild horses before the Ice Age. But the new findings suggest that the lack of diversity is a more recent development.

“Today, Y chromosomes of all horses are pretty much the same,” says evolutionary geneticist Ludovic Orlando of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.  As a result, scientists thought that ancient people started domesticating horses by breeding only a few

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content