Neolithic cattle domestication as seen from ancient DNA

Ruth Bollongino and Joachim Burger

in Going Over: The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in North-West Europe

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264140
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734489 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy 144

Neolithic cattle domestication as seen from ancient DNA

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Studies on modern cattle populations demonstrate the relations of the two major cattle breeds, the humpless taurine cattle (B. Taurus) and the Asian humped zebu (B. indicus). Studies by Loftus et al. (1994), Bradley et al. (1996), and MacHugh et al. (1997) showed that these two groups stem from independent domestication events in different geographical regions. Concerning the taurine cattle, recent population studies show that today the genetic diversity is highest in the Near and Middle East. This is an indication of the centre of origin in this region. But modern data can be biased by recent breeding practices and introgression. Only the analysis of ancient samples can help to get at detailed information about prehistoric situations. This chapter presents ancient mitochondrial data from 40 domestic cattle and 17 aurochs samples (plus ancient bison for comparison) that date mainly to the Neolithic, but which also include some of Mesolithic and Bronze Age date.

Keywords: cattle; genetic diversity; humpless taurine cattle; Asian humped zebu; Neolithic; aurochs; mitochondrial data

Chapter.  6704 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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