Dromedary Domestication Originated in the Southeast Arabian Peninsula

Posted on May 11, 2016

Scientists have determined that dromedary domestication originated in the Southeast Arabian Peninsula. The researchers came to the conclusion after studying up to 7,000-year-old DNA from bones of both wild and early-domesticated dromedaries.

DNA of the ancient one humped Arabian camels was compared to samples with the genetic profiles of modern dromedary populations from around the world. The researchers determined that the dromedary's genetic diversity is directly related to its use as a transport animal. The researchers say the forth-and-back movement of the caravans brings different dromedary populations in contact with each other. This leads to a regular gene flow and the maintenance of the genetic diversity.

Pamela Burger from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni Vienna says in a statement, "Our results appear to confirm that the first domestication of wild dromedaries occurred on the southeast coast. This was followed by repeated breeding of wild dromedaries with the early-domesticated populations."

The researchers also say that the wild ancestor of today's dromedary had a geographically limited range and went extinct around 2,000 years after the first domestication. They also say there is only one dromedary population in East Africa deviated from the genetic diversity of the other dromedaries. It has remained isolated due to geographic obstacles and cultural barriers.

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, PNAS.

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