Domestication of horses 5,000 years ago

April 25th, 2009 - 10:01 am ICT by IANS  

Berlin, April 25 (DPA) An elaborate study of genes from Ice Age and modern horses has shown that the horse was domesticated at least 5,000 years ago in a region known as the Ponto-Caspian steppe, scientists have said.
The region spreads from modern-day Romania through Russia to Kazakhstan.

The study, published Friday by German, Spanish and US geneticists in the journal Science, concluded that the domesticated horses were all brown or black, and that the earliest breeders quickly developed the hugely various colours of horses’ coats.

Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoological Studies in Berlin said taming the horse had “completely altered” human history and shaped European and Central Asian societies until the invention of the steam engine.

The study focussed on genes known to alter the colour of a horse’s coat. Ludwig said it had been difficult to obtain useful results from DNA in bones more than 12,000 years old, but 89 samples from 152 bones had yielded useful results.

Ludwig said the study added to the evidence against a theory that the colours of modern horses were the outcome of a focus on fewer breeds in recent centuries.

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