Evolution of cows

12 May 2012

Interview with

Nell Barrie

Kat -  And speaking of sequencing and things like that, earlier in the program we heard from Mark Thomas, who's looking at human evolution and cultural evolution. And is there a nice story I noticed about cows. So what's going on here?

Nell - I really like this. So they were looking at DNA from ancient cow ancestral fossils from Iran, in fact. That's quite interesting because they've taken these bones from a very hot desert environment and still somehow managed to get DNA out they can use to figure out what the DNA sequences were back in those ancestors of cattle. And this kind of made people go, you know, "Ooh Jurassic Park, you know, we can recreate prehistoric cows". I got very excited. They're not quite there obviously. But it's interesting to see how you got this very small population of cattle that were initially domesticated and that has given rise to all the kinds of cows we have today. So it's quite cool.

Kat - Also it's cool in as well the point that they're making the, in the story also that these were Aurochs, big ox things. Now even when you start domesticating things like that, it's going to be tricky. So I think it's probably a number of years before they really got them domesticated. So, the early life of a cattle herder...

Nell - Yeah. It might have been more scary.

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