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Spotted phenotypes in horses lost attractiveness in the Middle Ages

Wutke, Saskia; Benecke, Norbert; Sandoval-Castellanos, Edson; Döhle, Hans Jürgen; Friederich, Susanne; Gonzalez, Javier; Hallsson, Jón Hallsteinn; Hofreiter, Michael; Lõugas, Lembi and Magnell, Ola LU , et al. (2016) In Scientific Reports 6.
Abstract

Horses have been valued for their diversity of coat colour since prehistoric times; this is especially the case since their domestication in the Caspian steppe in ∼3,500 BC. Although we can assume that human preferences were not constant, we have only anecdotal information about how domestic horses were influenced by humans. Our results from genotype analyses show a significant increase in spotted coats in early domestic horses (Copper Age to Iron Age). In contrast, medieval horses carried significantly fewer alleles for these phenotypes, whereas solid phenotypes (i.e., chestnut) became dominant. This shift may have been supported because of (i) pleiotropic disadvantages, (ii) a reduced need to separate domestic horses from their wild... (More)

Horses have been valued for their diversity of coat colour since prehistoric times; this is especially the case since their domestication in the Caspian steppe in ∼3,500 BC. Although we can assume that human preferences were not constant, we have only anecdotal information about how domestic horses were influenced by humans. Our results from genotype analyses show a significant increase in spotted coats in early domestic horses (Copper Age to Iron Age). In contrast, medieval horses carried significantly fewer alleles for these phenotypes, whereas solid phenotypes (i.e., chestnut) became dominant. This shift may have been supported because of (i) pleiotropic disadvantages, (ii) a reduced need to separate domestic horses from their wild counterparts, (iii) a lower religious prestige, or (iv) novel developments in weaponry. These scenarios may have acted alone or in combination. However, the dominance of chestnut is a remarkable feature of the medieval horse population.

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Scientific Reports
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6
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Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85002801782
ISSN
2045-2322
DOI
10.1038/srep38548
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English
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yes
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4e32a6f6-a6ed-439a-b855-626b22e6dbad
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2017-02-28 13:42:40
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@article{4e32a6f6-a6ed-439a-b855-626b22e6dbad,
  abstract     = {<p>Horses have been valued for their diversity of coat colour since prehistoric times; this is especially the case since their domestication in the Caspian steppe in ∼3,500 BC. Although we can assume that human preferences were not constant, we have only anecdotal information about how domestic horses were influenced by humans. Our results from genotype analyses show a significant increase in spotted coats in early domestic horses (Copper Age to Iron Age). In contrast, medieval horses carried significantly fewer alleles for these phenotypes, whereas solid phenotypes (i.e., chestnut) became dominant. This shift may have been supported because of (i) pleiotropic disadvantages, (ii) a reduced need to separate domestic horses from their wild counterparts, (iii) a lower religious prestige, or (iv) novel developments in weaponry. These scenarios may have acted alone or in combination. However, the dominance of chestnut is a remarkable feature of the medieval horse population.</p>},
  articleno    = {38548},
  author       = {Wutke, Saskia and Benecke, Norbert and Sandoval-Castellanos, Edson and Döhle, Hans Jürgen and Friederich, Susanne and Gonzalez, Javier and Hallsson, Jón Hallsteinn and Hofreiter, Michael and Lõugas, Lembi and Magnell, Ola and Morales-Muniz, Arturo and Orlando, Ludovic and Pálsdóttir, Albína Hulda and Reissmann, Monika and Ruttkay, Matej and Trinks, Alexandra and Ludwig, Arne},
  issn         = {2045-2322},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Scientific Reports},
  title        = {Spotted phenotypes in horses lost attractiveness in the Middle Ages},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep38548},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2016},
}