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Chinese Were First Cattlemen, Jaw Bone Study Reveals

14 November 2013

CHINA – Humans have been farming cattle longer than previously thought, a study of cattle bones in north eastern China has revealed.

Morphological and genetic evidence shows cattle were already being managed by humans around 10,000 years ago, the time domestication first took place in the near east.

Biologists and Archaeologists from York University and Yunnan Normal University carbon dated and DNA tested a jawbone, dating back 10,660 years.

Patterns of wear on the molars were considered proof of animal husbandry, and genetic analysis confirmed the cattle were from a separate lineage to the Near East and South Asia.

“The specimen is unique and suggests that, similar to other species such as pigs and dogs, cattle domestication was probably also a complex process rather than a sudden event,” said project co-leader Professor Michi Hofreiter, University of York.

The revelations alter previous theories that domestication of the humpless taurine cattle first occurred in the near east, followed by zebu (humped) cattle being farmed two thousand years later in South Asia.  

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