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Study debunks fishy tale of how rabbits were first tamed

A pope’s proclamation that bunnies are fish, so can be eaten for Lent may never have happened

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1:30pm, February 14, 2018
rabbit

RABBIT TALE Rabbits came from the Iberian Peninsula and Southern France, but scientists are still debating how the animals became domesticated.

Domesticated bunnies may need a new origin story.

Researchers thought they knew when rabbits were tamed. An often-cited tale holds that monks in Southern France domesticated rabbits after Pope Gregory issued a proclamation in A.D. 600 that fetal rabbits, called laurices, are fish and therefore can be eaten during Lent.

There’s just one problem: The story isn’t true. Not only does the legend offer little logic for rabbits being fish, but the proclamation itself is bogus, according to a new study of rabbit domestication.

“Pope Gregory never said anything about rabbits or laurices, and there is no evidence they were ever considered ‘fish,’” says Evan Irving-Pease, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford.

He and his colleagues discovered that scientists had mixed up Pope Gregory with St. Gregory of Tours. St. Gregory made a passing reference to a man named Roccolenus who in “the days of holy Lent … often ate

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