Researchers identify the beginning of the relationship between humans and horses: 4,200 years ago
A’ancient equine DNA analysis revealed where and when the history of the horse and humanity were intertwined. Researchers report that the modern horse has peeped out more than 4,200 years ago in what is now southeastern Russia.
In a few centuries the descendants of these horses spread rapidly throughout Eurasia, supplanting almost all previous wild horse populations. The results of the study were published October 20 in the journal Nature.
Ludovic Orlando, a molecular archaeologist at the Center for Anthropobiology and Genomics in Toulouse, France, and his colleagues analyzed the ancient DNA of 273 horse bone samples from all continents, spanning 50 years of human and equine history.
For most of that time, genetically diverse wild horse populations spread throughout Eurasia. But by about 2000 BC, this variation disappeared. Around 1,500-1,000 BC, i horses Domestic animals from Spain to Mongolia were descended from the same population, which researchers have traced to more than 4,200-year-old specimens unearthed in the Pontic-Caspian steppe, north of the Caucasus region and the Caspian Sea.
Two genes were distinctly different in these modern horse parents and may have helped in this rapid expansionthe researchers found. Furthermore, these genes influence stamina, the ability to bear weight, and docility.
Selective human breeding may have helped “recombine two really good factors not present in any horse, ”Orlando explained. “This created an animal that was easier to interact and move with.” Humans may have tamed horses before, but it was only at this point that our relationship with horses really took off, experts say.