Coat color variation at the beginning of horse domestication

Science. 2009 Apr 24;324(5926):485. doi: 10.1126/science.1172750.


The transformation of wild animals into domestic ones available for human nutrition was a key prerequisite for modern human societies. However, no other domestic species has had such a substantial impact on the warfare, transportation, and communication capabilities of human societies as the horse. Here, we show that the analysis of ancient DNA targeting nuclear genes responsible for coat coloration allows us to shed light on the timing and place of horse domestication. We conclude that it is unlikely that horse domestication substantially predates the occurrence of coat color variation, which was found to begin around the third millennium before the common era.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / history*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Breeding
  • DNA
  • Europe
  • Genetic Variation
  • Hair Color / genetics*
  • History, Ancient
  • Horses / genetics*
  • Siberia


  • DNA