Racehorses came from Europe, not Arabia

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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London, Oct 6 (ANI): Majority of founding mothers of a prized horse breed- the famed Thoroughbred breed-came from Europe and not Arabia, as was previously believed, found a new study.

When it comes to racehorses, males get all of the attention. The founding stallions of the famed Thoroughbred breed are known to come from the Middle East, but historical records have neglected female pedigrees.

And now, new study has suggested that mares had more cosmopolitan origins than their male counterparts.

Information on the origins of mares is spotty because the importance of females to race performance was underplayed in the past, said Mim Bower, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Seventy-four foundation mares have been recorded, but they often didn't have their own name, and several were simply called "A Royal Mare," said Bower.

In a new study, Bower and her team traced the maternal roots of the Thoroughbred by examining sequences of mitochondrial DNA, which offspring inherit only from the mother.

By comparing genetic sequences across breeds, the scientists reconstructed the ancestry of the founding females and found that European populations made a significant genetic contribution.

"We've taken a historical question and deconstructed it with science," Nature quoted Bower as saying.

The team found that the genetic profile of Thoroughbreds shows the greatest overlap with those of Eurasian breeds, especially Connemara ponies from Ireland and Irish Draught horses.

On the other hand, Thoroughbreds are distantly related to Arabian breeds.

When the authors sorted breeds by geographic region, they found that Thoroughbreds are more similar to populations from the British Isles and Europe than those from the Middle East or Asia.

The racehorse breed received an estimated 60 percent of its genetic makeup from British and Irish horses, about 30 percent from Asian sources and only 8 percent from Arabs.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Biology Letters1. (ANI)

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