Unifying Domestication and Evolutionary Biology through Ancient DNA (UNDEAD)

2014 - 2019
European Research Council (ERC-2013-StG 337574-UNDEAD)

Unifying Domestication and Evolutionary Biology through Ancient DNA (UNDEAD)

This project takes advantage of revolutionary genetic technologies to characterise the nuclear genomes from ancient animal remains. By combining the resolution of thousands of DNA markers with the time depth of archaeology, this project aims to fulfill the potential of DNA to address fundamental questions regarding domestication. More specifically, we will address key unanswered questions regarding the spatiotemporal pattern and processes of animal domestication including: 1) where and how many times did early animal domestication take place, and 2) when did the mutations that are known to differentiate modern domestic and wild individuals first appear, and how often were similar genes selected for across species?

The ability to directly observe genetic variability and quantify admixture in ancient animal remains will means we can expand the potential of how domestic animals can be used to address archaeological questions including: To what degree did domestic animals hybridise with regional wild and domestic populations, what is the legacy of that admixture in modern populations, and 2) do the combined datasets support similar patterns of 
human migration across the Old World?

Each of these of these questions will be addressed by typing nuclear variation in three primary species: Dogs, the earliest animal domesticate and the only animal domesticated prior to the advent of agriculture, Pigs, one of the earliest farm animals likely domesticated independently in the Near East and East Asia, and Chickens, the first domesticated bird and now ubiquitous across the Old and New Worlds.


Co-Is: Dr Greger Larson

Collaborating network: 

Keith Dobney
Joris Peters
Jean-Denis Vigne
Mike Church
Tom McGovern
Yuan Jing
Tom Gilbert
Ludovic Orlando
Robert Wayne
Dan Bradley
Jean-Marie Rouillard
Laurent Franz
Joachim Burger
Mike Bunce
Thomas Cucchi