How a wild horse is tamed

6000 years ago: wild horses and the place where they were tamed

About 6000 years ago humans started taming wild horses. The horses were tamed in the west of what is now Kazakhstan and in the Ukraine. The domesticated herds of horses gradually expanded. As an international team of researchers reported in the "Proceedings" of the US National Academy of Sciences ("PNAS"), the tamed herds were repeatedly topped up with wild horses. Their study combines partly contradicting results on the origin of domestic horses from archaeological and DNA studies.

Researchers reconstruct the distribution of the wild horses

The researchers around Vera Warmuth from the University of Cambridge (Great Britain) collected DNA samples from 322 horses from a total of eight countries, from Lithuania and Ukraine to Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. With the help of the data, they reconstructed the distribution of wild horses (Equus ferus) and the history of domestication of horses.

Taming the Wild Horses

According to archaeological findings, the domestication of wild horses began in the western Eurasian steppe. The steppe stretches from the Black Sea to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The assumption has not yet been proven in genetic studies. Rather, they indicated that wild horses were tamed in many different places.

Wild horses were used

According to this, the wild horses spread from the eastern Eurasian steppe to the west about 160,000 years ago. Domestication began about 6000 years ago in the western Eurasian steppe. Again and again, wild horses were used to maintain or enlarge the domesticated herds. The scientists write that mainly female animals were used.

Wild horses were not easy to breed in captivity. Since mares are fundamentally easier to keep than stallions, the herds have primarily been stocked up with wild mares. This fact probably explains the high variability in the maternal DNA of today's horses. This led - wrongly - to the assumption that the wild horses had been domesticated in several regions. dpa / AZ