Ancient African cattle first domesticated in Middle East
|Kuri-Rinder cattle from the Buduma Area of West Africa|
[Credit: British White Cattle]
Prof. Decker says the genetics of these African cattle breeds are similar to those of cattle first domesticated in the Middle East nearly 10,000 years ago, proving that those cattle were brought to Africa as farmers migrated south. Those cattle then interbred with wild cattle, or aurochs, which were native to the region, and changed their genetic makeup enough to confuse geneticists.
"In many ways, the history of cattle genetics mirrors human history," Decker said. "In the case of African cattle, anthropologists and geneticists used to suspect that domesticated African cattle were native to the continent, when in fact, they were brought by migrating peoples thousands of years ago. By better understanding the history of the animals we domesticate, we can better understand ourselves."
Decker also said that cattle breeding is important for animal farmers looking to maximize their herds' meat and dairy production. He says that understanding the genetic history of cattle breeds is important when looking for solutions to agricultural issues.
"Now that we have this more complete genetic history of cattle worldwide, we can better understand the diversity of the species," Decker said. "By understanding the variations present, we can improve cattle for agricultural purposes, whether that is through breeding more disease-resistant animals or finding ways to increase dairy or beef production."
Source: Public Library of Science [March 27, 2014]