The History and Consequences of Domestication of the Horse

Topics: Horse, Domestication of the horse, Domestication Pages: 3 (903 words) Published: December 30, 2011
The History and Consequences of Domestication of the Horse.

Domestication concerns adaptation, which is usually a captive environment and which is achieved by some combination of genetic changes occurring over generations, as well as by environmentally induced changes in development that recur during each generation (Price, 1984). The domestication of the horse has profoundly affected the course of civilization. Horses provided meat, milk, and enhanced transportation and warfare (Vila et al., 2001). Horse remains become increasingly common in archaeological sites of the Eurasian grassland steppe dating from about 6000 years ago, suggesting the time and place of their first domestication (Clutton-Brock 1987). Two hypotheses for the origin of the domestic horse from wild populations can be formulated. Firstly, that the domestic horse was developed through selective breeding of a limited wild stock from a few foci of domestication. Thereafter, domestic horses would have been distributed to other regions (Levine, 2005). Another alternative could be that domestication involved a large number of founders recruited over an extended time period from throughout the extensive Eurasian range of the horse. In this multiple origins scenario, horses may have been independently captured from diverse wild populations and then increasingly bred in captivity as wild numbers dwindled (Vila et al, 2001). Consequently, early domestic horses may not represent a stock highly modified by selective breeding. Domestication involves both culture and biology. The cultural process begins where there were loose ties with the social medium of man, where interbreeding with wild forms was common and kept the horse closely related to its wild ancestor from a morphological point of view (Zeuner, 1963). The biological process resembles evolution and begins when a small number of parent animals are separated from the wild species and are habituated to humans (Clutton-brook, 1992). These animals...
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