(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has conducted a genetic analysis of donkeys to reconstruct the history of their domestication. The results showed that, unlike many other animals, donkeys have only been tamed once in history, reports Science.
According to genetic analysis, donkeys were domesticated about 5,000 years ago in East Africa. After that, the animals quickly spread across the territory of Eurasia.
Shortly after domestication, donkeys broke up into subpopulations that remained isolated from each other for a long time.
Scientists have suggested that this was due to the desertification of the Sahara – the tribes could no longer travel through dry scorched lands, maintaining communications with each other.
The study says that rapid expansion and isolation contributed to the transformation of donkeys into essential beasts of burden that helped people transport goods across a wide variety of landscapes and environments.
The experts analyzed the genomes of 207 modern donkeys from Central Asia, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Europe, 31 ancient donkeys whose fossils were found in Europe and Central Asia, and 15 wild horses.
They noted that ancient people bred domestic donkeys from the largest and strongest animals.
Scientists have also identified an unknown genetic line of donkeys that existed in the Levant region (eastern Mediterranean) in the 200s BC. It facilitated the genetic flow from Africa to Asia.
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