How ancient people turned meat horses into sled horses

by admin, Wednesday, 27 October 2021 (10 months )

Nowadays, the horse is perceived as a means of transportation. Horses are used for horse riding and sports competitions, and in rural areas they still function as horse-drawn vehicles. However, not everyone knows that initially people used horses exclusively for meat. And only after a certain time, people noticed that among meat horses there are those who behave more calmly than others and are amenable to training. As a result, they began to be bred and raised as domestic horses that can be ridden, milked, used in wars, etc. However, until the last moment, the question remained open when the first domestic horses appeared. According to generally accepted information, horses were first used by the inhabitants of the Eurasian steppes. But the Eurasian steppes are a huge territory, which stretches from Eastern Europe almost to the Pacific Ocean. It includes the Black Sea, Kazakh and Mongol-Manchurian steppes. According to one version, horses were first used by people of Botay culture. However, the analysis DNA showed that domestic horses are close to Przewalski’s horses, but at the same time have little in common with the horses of the Botay culture. When asked about the time of their domestication, an international group of scientists answered.

Scientists have found out when and where people began to use the former meat horses as pets, sled horses

When did the first riding horses appear?

To find out where and when domestic horses originated, it is enough to compare DNA from equine remains of different ages, which were found in different areas. Of the Eurasian steppe, which was done by scientists from scientific centers of different countries, including from Russia.

For their work, the researchers used the bones of horses aged from ten to two thousand years, which were found as a result of archaeological excavations in different regions of the Eurasian steppe. As a result, the scientists were able to sequence 300 horse genomes. The results of the study, which were published in the journal Nature , showed that horses that lived with humans from 4,200 years ago were distinguished by a variety of species.

Later, the number of species began to decline sharply, that is, ancient people began to use one specific species of animals. This speaks of artificial selection of horses. Accordingly, the species that the ancient people began to breed suited them more than other types of horses.

About 4,000 years ago, one particular horse species spread over a vast area, and dominated all other species of these domestic animals. In particular, such horses began to be bred in the territory of modern central Russia. After another thousand years, horses were the same for almost all inhabitants of Eurasia. Of course, they can be called “the same” only conditionally, since they differed in color, perhaps their different breeds appeared. However, in terms of genetics, they were all very close to each other.

Special genes for domestic sled horses

Among the genetic traits in widespread horses, scientists have found two interesting traits – the ZFPM1 and GSDMC genes. They were the same as domestic horses, but different from wild horses. ZFPM1 is responsible for the behavior of the animal, namely, anxiety and aggressiveness. The GSDMC gene determines the development of the back. Accordingly, horses with the domestic genes ZFPM1 and GSDMC should have had a calmer demeanor and a strong back.

Scientists had to find out only where horses with “domestic” genes first appeared. The very first such animals could not be found, but they found out where the horses with the genes closest to them lived in the period 5400-4600 years ago, that is, before the appearance of domestic horses. As it turned out, this was the south of modern Russia, that is, the steppes between the Don and the Volga. The horses that lived here are the ancestors of domestic horses.

This suggests that it was here that people noticed that animals can be used not only for meat, but also for other purposes. Let me remind you that in those days people of the Yamnaya culture lived here. The study is fully consistent with the data obtained by scientists from the Max Planck Institute. Their work showed that it was here that people first began to eat horse milk , which also testifies to the domestication of horses. As a result, they were able to travel long distances.

In general, the life of people after the domestication of horses became easier, which gave impetus to the further development of civilization. Finally, let me remind you that perhaps in the near future we will be able to see what an ancient horse 42,000 years old looked like. Scientists are working to grow it from the preserved DNA .


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