Genetic Analyses of Bovid Remains and the Origin of Early European Cattle
Sammanfattning: The aurochs Bos primigenius, extinct since 1627, was the wild progenitor of cattle. It is believed that all European cattle originate from one domestication event in the Near East 10 000 years ago. However, it is evident from the archaeological record that the aurochs survived into historic time and spent many years existing alongside domestic cattle. Thus, a question posed is whether aurochsen were locally domesticated or incorporated into early domestic cattle stock.In this thesis, genetic techniques are applied to ancient and modern DNA from bovids in order to study questions relating to the origin of early European cattle. DNA from ancient specimens is fragmented and in greatly reduced quantity. Therefore mitochondrial DNA, present in many copies in the living cell, has long been dominating the ancient DNA research field. Analyses of ancient DNA presented in this work are based on both mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA, through the study of Single Nuclear Polymorohism (SNPs). A method for typing ancient SNPs was developed and applied to ancient cattle bones.Mitochondrial DNA of cattle is structured into five geographically distributed lineages, the dominant lineage in Europe is also found in the Near East where additional lineages are found. This pattern has been attributed to the proposed domestication event in the Near East from where cattle carrying the single lineage were brought to Europe. However, the results presented here show that cattle domestication was more complicated than previously suggested. SNP data from extant cattle and bones from cattle and aurochs point towards a hybridisation event. European cattle appear indeed to have been domesticated in the Near East and brought in to the European continent from there. However, once in Europe, hybridisation with local aurochsen took place. It appears therefore that today’s cattle descend both from both Anatolian and European aurochsen.
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