University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > The Domestic Pig: Selective Breeding and Prevailing Tastes, Morphological and Genetic Variation over 100 Generations

The Domestic Pig: Selective Breeding and Prevailing Tastes, Morphological and Genetic Variation over 100 Generations

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Ancient genetics as well as geometric morphometrics have begun to clarify to locations and timings of multiple animal domestications, including horses, dogs and pigs. However, it is still unclear how quickly these domestic organisms changed from their wild predecessors into domesticated forms. Furthermore, the emergence of breeds within a given species, which has been postulated as a feature of urbanization and the emergence of market economies, is as yet unmeasured, due largely to an inability to distinguish between the natural range of variation and human selection pressures upon the genome and the skeleton. The Sus 100 project utilises an interdisciplinary approach to this problem which synthesizes the methods of biology, livestock science, and archaeological science within a social framework to evaluate the biological effects of human driven selection pressures upon an ideal model organism, the domesticated pig. Based upon the unique domestic animal collections at the Central Natural Science Collections at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, modern and historical specimens from two key pig breeds, the Deutsch Edelschwein and the Deutsch Landschwein, are compared with wild boar remains which were collected from German forests. The first methodological approaches to creating a synthesised approach the genetics using modern day low-cost SNP chip techniques are presented, as well as exploratory statistical models for documenting geometric morphometric variation across the skeleton. This project acts as a modern case study not only to model the responsiveness of the Sus scrofa to evolutionary pressure but also to evaluate osteological response to intense culturally-driven human selection upon past animal populations.

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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