Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The First Domesticated Donkey Was Born in Africa

23.06.2004


An international team of researchers, with the participation of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona professor, Jordi Jordana, has published in Science magazine the results of their investigation into the origins of the domesticated donkey. The authors have discovered by using genetic analysis that the domesticated donkey originated in northeastern Africa approximately 5,000 years ago, quite probably due to the desertification of the Sahara. The conclusions of the study state that all domesticated donkeys come from two different lines from northeast Africa.



Donkeys were the last species of domestic livestock (cows, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, etc.) to be domesticated. Archeological evidence suggests that they were domesticated some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. However, there was no solid evidence of where their domestication may have taken place. The majority of species were first domesticated in the Near East (Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Iraq, etc.) and southwest Asia (the Arabian Peninsula), so it may seem logical that that the same occurred in the case of donkeys. Nevertheless, based on the genetic data of 259 domesticated donkeys from 52 countries, the team of researchers arrived at an unexpected conclusion: the closest relatives to present day domesticated donkeys are the wild asses of northeastern Africa, i.e., Nubian wild asses, (E.a.africanus) and the Somalian wild ass (E.a.somaliensis)

The scientists have also discovered the number of domestication events that took place. The study of the domestic populations places these individuals in two large groups with a high level of divergence (of the sequences of mitochondrial DNA) between them, which would suggest two different origins. Thus, the phylogenetic analyses indicated the existence of two divergent maternal lineages, which implies two domestications. The separation of these two lineages coming from a hypothetical common ancestral line took place between 303,000 and 91,000 years ago, a time quite earlier than the first domestication events of other livestock species, which corroborates two different maternal origins for domesticated donkeys from two different wild populations.


To locate the specific area of the first domestications, the researchers studied the genetic diversity. The northeast African animals retained, in a very significant way, greater diversity. The scientists have deduced that the ass is the only hoofed livestock species domesticated exclusively in Africa.

The study also demonstrates that the practice of domesticating animals, which first occurred in the Near East between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, reappeared 5,000 years ago in northeastern Africa, probably as a response to the desertification of the Sahara (between approximately 5,000 and 7,000 years ago).

The investigation supports the idea that the asses were transported, moved and intensely commercialized. This could shed light on the role of the northeastern African region in human migrations and commerce. The study could contribute new clues that will redirect future archaeological studies to approach new evidence on the origins of animal domestication.

Other participants in the research were: Albano Beja-Pereira, of the University of Porto (Portugal), who was the study director; Phillip R. England, Pierre Taberlet and Gordon Luikar, of the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble (France); Nuno Ferrand, from the University of Porto and the Praça Gomes Teixeira Faculty of Sciences (Portugal); Steve Jordan, of Bucknell University (U.S.A.); Amel Or Bakhiet and Mohammed To Abdalla, from Sudan University of Science and Technology (Sudan); Marjan Mashkour, from the National Natural History Museum (Frankfurt).

Octavi López Coronado | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uab.es

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

MEMS chips get metatlenses

21.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

International team publishes roadmap to enhance radioresistance for space colonization

21.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

World's first solar fuels reactor for night passes test

21.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>