February 14, 2016

Goat genetics suggest that two populations were domesticated


Licia Colli, Hovirang Lancioni et al., Whole mitochondrial genomes unveil the impact of domestication on goat matrilineal variability. BMC Genomics 2015. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1186/s12864-015-2342-2]



The current extensive use of the domestic goat (Capra hircus) is the result of its medium size and high adaptability as multiple breeds. The extent to which its genetic variability was influenced by early domestication practices is largely unknown. A common standard by which to analyze maternally-inherited variability of livestock species is through complete sequencing of the entire mitogenome (mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA).


We present the first extensive survey of goat mitogenomic variability based on 84 complete sequences selected from an initial collection of 758 samples that represent 60 different breeds of C. hircus, as well as its wild sister species, bezoar (Capra aegagrus) from Iran. Our phylogenetic analyses dated the most recent common ancestor of C. hircus to ~460,000 years (ka) ago and identified five distinctive domestic haplogroups (A, B1, C1a, D1 and G). More than 90 % of goats examined were in haplogroup A. These domestic lineages are predominantly nested within C. aegagrus branches, diverged concomitantly at the interface between the Epipaleolithic and early Neolithic periods, and underwent a dramatic expansion starting from ~12–10 ka ago.


Domestic goat mitogenomes descended from a small number of founding haplotypes that underwent domestication after surviving the last glacial maximum in the Near Eastern refuges. All modern haplotypes A probably descended from a single (or at most a few closely related) female C. aegagrus. Zooarchaelogical data indicate that domestication first occurred in Southeastern Anatolia. Goats accompanying the first Neolithic migration waves into the Mediterranean were already characterized by two ancestral A and C variants. The ancient separation of the C branch (~130 ka ago) suggests a genetically distinct population that could have been involved in a second event of domestication. The novel diagnostic mutational motifs defined here, which distinguish wild and domestic haplogroups, could be used to understand phylogenetic relationships among modern breeds and ancient remains and to evaluate whether selection differentially affected mitochondrial genome variants during the development of economically important breeds.

Note: "Southeastern Anatolia" should read Northern Kurdistan, as the Turkish official concept of Anatolia wildly goes beyond the actual Anatolia or Asia Minor peninsula into Upper Mesopotamia. Also Anatolia Peninsula was not involved, as far as we know, in the Early Neolithic and only cow domestication, which is of a later date, can be tracked to that region. The oldest known goats are from the M'lafatian culture of the Zagros (Jarmo and such). The same happens with sheep and pigs.


  1. I am not a man of letters or an expensive education, just an old man who thinks deeply with a love of knowledge. It may sound silly but I have Google translate on my Iphone and use it constantly to translate English words into basque and vice versa. I have typed in words such as Khufu and had it translated as Cheops in Basque the strangest one was the basque word for God Jainkoa it translated to the Malysian word Jainko meaning We Respect. If you try different spellings you will find many other words in different languages. The word for human is Gisa. There are Sumerian words and I even typed in the Hebrew word for a type of High Priest, "Cohan" and got zahmati or Semitic. Google Translate is free! Madagascar is kind of an isolate, the people are Afro- Pacific Islander. Well good hunting!

    1. I can tell you that Jainko(-a), surely from Jaun Goikoa (Lord of the High, Jaungoikoa is actually used more nowadays) means God in the Christian way and is not the old word almost certainly but a Medieval "neologism". Alternatively it might derive from "jas" (clan), from which also comes "jaun" (lord, sir, mister) and "jatorra" (today genuine or cool person, originally "member of a clan", "blooded", from jas + etorria = who comes from a clan). There was an older word, documented by a grumpy and chauvinist French pilgrim, which is Urtzi ("Urcia" in the French record), which is present (in variant forms like Ortz, Ost) with the meaning of Sky or Heaven in many words, from Osteguna ("day of Heaven": Thursday, day of Jupiter in Roman tradition), Ostirala ("fern field of Heaven": Friday, traditionally the "witches' sabbath" or ancient Basque religious night of the fertility cult), ortzadar ("Heaven's horn" = rainbow), ostarri, oskarri ("Heaven's stone" = lighting, it was believed that lightning was caused by the falling of a stone, that got buried very deeply), etc.

      It has nothing to do with Malaysian.

      The word for human is "giza", not "gisa" (which means "aspect" or "style", in a descriptive way). Plausibly it comes from a primitive synthetic verbal form of gu (we) + iza-n (to be), similar to modern "naiz" (I am) or "gara" (we are) but much older in its formation, so it'd mean "what we are". From giza: gizaki (human being), gizon (man), gizarte (society), gizajo (poor fellow), etc. I see no possible relation with Sumerian nor Hebrew (zahmati is NOT a Basque word, maybe Arabic?)

      Kufu = Cheops (Hellenistic name) is not a "translation" of any kind. The duality of names also exists in English.


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