Crop Biotech Update

DNA Traces Cattle Evolution

March 30, 2012

Scientists from the University College London and partners conducted a study to trace the evolution of domesticated cattle. They extracted the DNA from the bones of domestic cattle excavated in Iranian archaeological sites, where cattle were first domesticated. Based on the results of their genetic study, they concluded that all cattle descended from a small herd composed of 80 animals that were domesticated from wild ox in the Near East around 10,500 years ago.

"This is a surprisingly small number of cattle. We know from archaeological remains that the wild ancestors of modern-day cattle, known as aurochs, were common throughout Asia and Europe, so there would have been plenty of opportunities to capture and domesticate them," said Prof. Mark Thomas, geneticist from the UCL Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Read the media release at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/March2012/120327-cattle-traced-back-80-animals