(ORDO NEWS) — New research showed that the Mesopotamians used hybrids of domesticated and wild donkeys to pull their war wagons 4,500 years ago – at least 500 years before horses were bred for this purpose.
Analysis of ancient DNA from animal bones found in northern Syria has resolved the long-standing question of what type of creature the so-called kunga belonged to. In ancient sources, they were described as draft animals.
“We knew from the skeletons that they were odd-hoofed animals, similar to horses, but they did not correspond to the size of domestic and wild Syrian donkeys. So they were something else, but it was not clear what the difference was, ”- Eva-Marie Gale, co-author of the study from the Jacques Monod Institute in Paris.
A new study has shown that the kungs were strong, fast, and at the same time sterile hybrids of a female domestic donkey and a male Syrian wild donkey, or hemion, a species of odd-toed ungulates that live in this region.
According to Geigl, in ancient records, kungs were mentioned as highly valued and very expensive animals, which can be explained by the rather complicated process of their breeding.
Before mating, the male wild donkey had to be caught, and this was a difficult task, since they could run faster than domestic donkeys and even kungs. Plus, they couldn’t be tamed.
“They really created these hybrids through bioengineering. As far as we know, there were the earliest hybrids, each of which had to be produced anew – this explains why they were so valuable, ”- Eva-Maria Gale.
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