DNA from horse bones in a 4,500-year-old cemetery in Syria solves the mystery of the oldest hybrid animal

DNA from horse bones in a 4,500-year-old cemetery in Syria solves the mystery of the oldest hybrid animal

newspaper spokeDaily MailBritish about a new study, according to which the inhabitants of Mesopotamia were using hybrids of domesticated donkeys and wild donkeys, to pull their war chariots 4,500 years ago, at least 500 years before horses were bred for this purpose.

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In this research, geneticists at the Jacques Monod Institute in Paris, France studied the DNA sequence of horse bones found in a 4,500-year-old cemetery in the village of Umm al-Murra in northern Syria.

The results of the study indicated that the skeletons belonged to a hybrid of domesticated donkeys called “Congas”, which is a mating process between female donkeys and male Syrian wild donkeys. Thus, this study shows the existence of the oldest known evidence of breeding hybrid animals.

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According to experts, humans did not ride over the congas, instead, these animals were used to transport goods and equipment and tow war chariots.

The strength, size and speed of the congas made it a better choice among the donkeys for towing four-wheeled chariots.


It is believed that the first people to raise the Kongas were the Sumerians, the inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia, and the study indicates that horses were not introduced to the area until after 500 years.

It is known that the Sumerians have been using four-wheeled chariots drawn by horses on the battlefield for centuries. As illustrated by the “Standard of Ur” panel displayed in the museum, which is a Sumerian mosaic dating back about 4500 years.

In this context, the scientists of this study say, “Congas was an F1 hybrid between female domestic donkeys and male Syrian wild donkeys. This documents the oldest evidence of hybrid animal breeding.”

They continued, “The large-sized congas were used to tow the royal chariots. Their size and speed made them more desirable than donkeys for four-wheeled war chariots.”

Mesopotamia was a historical geographical region located in the Middle East. It extends over most of what is now known as Iraq, but also extended to include parts of Syria and Turkey.

As records and clay tablets of the time show, congas, which cost up to six times the price of a donkey, were deliberately bred in Mesopotamia during the Early Bronze Age.

However, although it was thought that the male congressman was most likely a donkey. However, the identity of the female remains unclear.

To find out more, the researchers analyzed the complete skeletal genomes of 25 male hybrid horses. which was found in the village of Umm al-Murra to identify and investigate its origins.

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Because the DNA was stored very poorly due to the hot Syrian climate, the researchers combined DNA sequencing with polymerase chain reaction (PCR), targeting mitochondrial DNA (for the female test) and the Y chromosome (for the male test).

Although degraded, the congas genome can be compared to other horses, the domestic donkey and the hemione wild donkey.

In the end, however, the congas replaced the wild ass, perhaps because they were easier to breed.

The researchers also say that their study, which was published in the journal Science Advances, may help explain the scale of hybrid breeding in Mesopotamian societies in the third millennium BC.

(Source: Daily Mail)

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