Report

rss

Iraq News

Kurdistan

Economy

World

All News

1st bioengineered hybrid animals discovered — in ancient Mesopotamia

Category: World

Date: 2022-01-15T17:18:35+0000
1st bioengineered hybrid animals discovered — in ancient Mesopotamia

Shafaq News / Mesopotamians were using hybrids of domesticated donkeys and wild asses to pull their war wagons 4,500 years ago — at least 500 years before horses were bred for the purpose, a new study reveals.

The analysis of ancient DNA from animal bones unearthed in northern Syria resolves a long-standing question of just what type of animals were the "kungas" described in ancient sources as pulling war wagons.

"From the skeletons, we knew they were equids [horse-like animals], but they did not fit the measurements of donkeys and they did not fit the measurements of Syrian wild asses," said study co-author Eva-Maria Geigl, a genomicist at the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris. "So they were somehow different, but it was not clear what the difference was."

"From the skeletons, we knew they were equids [horse-like animals], but they did not fit the measurements of donkeys and they did not fit the measurements of Syrian wild asses," said study co-author Eva-Maria Geigl, a genomicist at the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris. "So they were somehow different, but it was not clear what the difference was."

Ancient records mentioned kungas as highly prized and very expensive beasts, which could be explained by the rather difficult process of breeding them, Geigl said.

Because each kunga was sterile, like many hybrid animals such as mules, they had to be produced by mating a female domesticated donkey with a male wild ass, which had to be captured, she said.

That was an especially difficult task because wild asses could run faster than donkeys and even kungas, and were impossible to tame, she said.

Kungas are mentioned in several ancient texts in cuneiform on clay tablets from Mesopotamia, and they are portrayed drawing four-wheeled war wagons on the famous "Standard of Ur," a Sumerian mosaic from about 4,500 years ago that's now on display at the British Museum in London.

Archaeologists had suspected that they were some sort of hybrid donkey, but they didn't know the equid it was hybridized with, Geigl said.

Source: Live Science

related