In contrast, a rapid and substantial increase in the number of coat colorations is found in both Siberia and East Europe beginning in the fifth millennium B.P. (Fig. 1 and figs. S1 and S2). Although the earliest chestnut allele (MC1R gene) was identified in a Romanian sample from the late seventhmillennium B.P., chestnut horses were first observed in Siberia (fifth millenium B.P.). Their prevalence increased rapidly, reaching 28% during the Bronze Age.
The earliest chestnut allele comes from a wild horse from Pietrele, a village in southern Romania (4,300BC). But, since this horse was heterozygous in the MC1R locus and homozygous in the ASIP locus for the black allele, it exhibited a black coat color.
Interestingly, in the Eneolithic, the 4 Romanian horses were all black, while 5 Ukrainian samples from Mayaki were bay, and 1 from Molyukhov Bugor was black.
The first observed chestnut horse was from Tartas-1 in West Siberia (3,000-2,500BC).
Mutations responsible for coat color dilutions or spottings seem to appear later. Cream (buckskin) and (black) silver dilutions (2800 to 2600 yr B.P.) were first observed in Siberia. Sabino is the first spotting phenotype, appearing during the
fifth millennium B.P. in Siberia, and present in Armenia and Moldavia during the middle Bronze Age. The Tobiano spotting was first found in a single Eastern European sample (3500 to 3000 yr B.P.) and later also in Asia. Unlike in samples from Siberia and Eastern Europe, we observed no color change in Spanish samples until medieval times.
Sabino spotting was first observed in Tartas-1 from West Siberia (3,000-2,500BC) and then in Lchasen Armenia (1,410-1,250BC) and then Miciurin, Moldova (1,500-1,000BC).
Tobiano spotting was also first observed in Miciurin, and later in Arzan-2 from Irona Age South Siberia (619-608BC).
- Earliest horse domestication in Kazakhstan
- Origin of ancient Chinese horses from ancient DNA
- Equine coat color genetics
Science doi: 10.1126/science.1172750
Coat Color Variation at the Beginning of Horse Domestication
Arne Ludwig et al.
The transformation of wild animals into domestic ones available for human nutrition was a key prerequisite for modern human societies. However, no other domestic species has had such a substantial impact on the warfare, transportation, and communication capabilities of human societies as the horse. Here, we show that the analysis of ancient DNA targeting nuclear genes responsible for coat coloration allows us to shed light on the timing and place of horse domestication. We conclude that it is unlikely that horse domestication substantially predates the occurrence of coat color variation, which was found to begin around the third millennium before the common era.