People began to domesticate wild goats at least 10,000 years ago in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran, according to a new study. It indicates that at that time, villagers in the area experimented with ways of controlling herds. These early domesticators primarily slaughtered male goats that had not reached their reproductive prime, leaving mature males to breed with a herd's adult females, say the researchers.
Goats in these early managed herds probably looked much like wild goats, both physically and genetically, say Melinda A. Zeder of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and Brian Hesse of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Over time, isolation of managed herds and the introduction of selective breeding produced changes in domesticated goats, the two anthropologists propose.
Some researchers have argued that declines in overall body size of goat skeletons unearthed at two ancient village sites in the Zagros Mo