Domestic horse origins revealed in new study

Domestic horse origins revealed in new study
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Domestic horse origins revealed in new study

Domestic horse origins have been revealed in a new study.

For thousands of years, domestic horses have played a critical role in humans lives. From farming land, to war efforts and transportation, horses still remain in our lives today for sport and pleasure. However, experts have long been puzzled about where domestic horses actually came from!

After consultations among hundreds of scientists, it has been agreed that the domestic horses originates from Southern Russia.

The discovery provides strong evidence that of three main locations in contention that was the last likely birthplace of modern domestic horses. These locations were Anatolia, Iberia, and western Eurasian steppes.

Study leader, Ludovic Orlando, a molecular archaeologist at University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France, and colleagues reconstructed ancient horse genomes from ancient horse skeletons found in sites ranging from Portugal to Mongolia.


For their research, Orlando and an international team of bone collectors scoured museums and archaeological sites, gathered material to investigate 273 individual genes from horse remains found across Europe and central Asia. By comparing the overall composition of the genes, they were able to map out when and where horses’ gene pools evolved.

The genetic maps revealed a wide diversity among domesticated horses before about 5,000 years ago. This was soon narrowed as humans began selectively breeding the animals for traits such as endurance, docility, and the ability to bear human weight. The genetic selection created the horses we know and love today.

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Honing in on the Volga-Don region in South Russia, it is thought horses were bred for domestication and quickly began migrating to new places with their owners. This new line of horses soon spread from western Europe to eastern Asia and beyond.

The migration “was almost overnight,” says Orlando, whose study was published on October 20 in Nature.

This was not something that built up over thousands of years.”

“As they expanded, they replaced all the previous lineages that were roaming around Eurasia,”

The quick spread around Eurasia could be explained by already built infrastructure. Also, some already had knowledge of horse husbandry meaning they could take on the animals and benefit from them.

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Journalist and News Reporter, Everything Horse Reporting on equestrian news stories, Abby also produces a variety of engaging content for the magazine. Email: LinkedIn:

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