Ancient DNA analysis of Scandinavian medieval drinking horns and the horn of the last aurochs bull

Maiken Hemme Bro-Jørgensen*, Christian Carøe, Filipe G. Vieira, Sofia Nestor, Ann Hallström, Kristian M. Gregersen, Vivian Etting, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The aurochs (Bos primigenius) was once widespread in Europe, Asia and North Africa. The aurochs was both the ancestor of domestic cattle, and co-existed alongside them for millennia post domestication, before going extinct in 1627. Several studies have suggested that admixture occurred between wild aurochs populations and domestic cattle. To contribute towards our understanding of this process, we generated near complete mitochondrial genomes (between 15063 and 16338 nucleotides) from material derived from the horn of the last aurochs bull (died in 1620) as well as five medieval period Scandinavian drinking horns that have been attributed to aurochs based on their size. Phylogenetic analysis on the data shows that three drinking horns carry European aurochs haplotype P, while two of the drinking horns and the horn of the last aurochs bull carry modern domestic taurine cattle T haplotypes. Our results therefore demonstrate that drinking horns may represent a unique source of material with which to study aurochs genetics, and that the last European aurochs likely underwent a degree of admixture with domestic cattle. We anticipate that future analysis of the nuclear DNA content of such horns will be able to shed further light into the specifics of these admixture events.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    Volume99
    Pages (from-to)47-54
    ISSN0305-4403
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

    • Ancient DNA
    • Bos primigenius
    • Bos taurus
    • Drinking horns
    • Introgression
    • Mitochondrial DNA

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