Researchers Examine Ancient Stallions’ Genetic Diversity

New research indicates that ancient stallions were far more genetically diverse before domestication.
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Whoever says, "men are all alike," might also be able to say this about modern domestic stallions. According to new Y chromosome-specific DNA research on ancient horses, stallions were far more genetically diverse before humans domesticated them.

By sequencing DNA base pairs of the equine Y chromosome–the "sex chromosome" that is found only in males–geneticists have discovered that today’s stallions have a surprising lack of diversity compared to many other species and to ancient wild horses. Because Y chromosomes are passed from sire to colt and never to fillies, the research provides an interesting view into paternal-line equine evolution over hundreds of years of domestication and breeding practices, according to Sebastian Lippold, PhD, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

This revelation provides a previously unseen view of the scientific and cultural history of the horse.

"It shows how breeding practices could influence and shape genetic diversity and how different this can be between males and females," Lippold said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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