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Ancestral Mother of All Horses Lived 160,000 Years Ago

Scientists have discovered through mitochondrial DNA that a mare that walked the earth 160,000 years ago is the ancestral mother of every horse in the world.

Eighteen different genetic clusters were identified as having come from the ancestral mare reports Bloomberg News, which suggests that domestication of horses occurred in many places across Europe and Asia. The article does not specify when domestication first occurred. (See an earlier FHL News report pushing the earliest domestication back from five thousand to nine thousand years.)

Samantha Brooks, an assistant professor of equine genetics at Cornell University believes that the research may “help scientists classify horse fossils, figure out the pedigree of modern breeds, and perhaps evaluate how genetics affect racehorse performance.”

The study was led by Alessandro Achilli in the department of cellular and environmental biology at the University of Perugia, Italy.

Read more details in Elizabeth Lopatto’s article in Bloomberg News.

Posted January 31, 2012