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Nov 09, 2013 09:00 AM EST

Cattle Farming Prevalent in China 10,000 Years Ago, Study

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An international team of researchers has found the earliest evidence of cattle farming in northern china. The new finding suggest that the management of cattle population existed at the same time cattle domestication was starting in the Near East around 10,000 years ago.

The team, co-led by scientists from the University of York in the United Kingdom and Yunnan Normal University in China, now claim that domestication of cattle might have occurred in multiple regions at around the same time.

Prior to this study, researchers believed that cattle domestication was limited to the Near East.

The researchers derived this after discovering an ancient cattle specimen at an excavation site located in northeast China. The specimen, carbon dated to be 10,660-years-old, displayed a unique pattern of wear on the molars in the lower jaw that are usually associated with animals managed under humans. This morphological and genetic evidence proves that cattle domestication was started in this region around the same time as well.

"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 Professor Michi Hofreiter, who belongs to the department of biology at the University of York, in a press release.

"This is a really exciting example of the power of multi-disciplinary research; the wear pattern on the lower jaw itself is already really interesting, and together with the carbon dating and ancient DNA we have been able to place it in an even bigger picture of early cattle management," Johanna Paijmans, the Ph.D. student at York who performed the DNA analysis, said in the press release.

The study has been published in Nature Communications.

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