Grazing Animal Dispersal of Grains and Seeds

14 Jul 2019

This is an interesting story at https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/07/grazing-animals-drov... ... many of the grains, including quinoa, amaranth, the millets, hemp, and buckwheat, have traits that indicate they co-evolved to be dispersed by large grazing animals. During the Pleistocene there were great herds of ruminants and these directed the ecology over most of the surface of the earth (or that is the assumption made). As such, they brought into being evolutionary changes in plants. Understanding this process provides scientists with an insight into early domestication of grasses and seed bearing plants - a switch from dispersal by wild animals to dispersal by humans (eventually leading to farm fields). The thinking is that heavy grazing of the plants caused dense patches to develop near rivers and wherever grazing animals congregated which then allowed humans to harvest them. Later, humans began to deliberately plant the seeds and grow the preferred plants themselves. This may have occurred when grazing animals became less common in the early Holocene (or during the climatic downturn of the Younger Dryas episode). In a catastrophist scenario other factors come into play such as burnt landscapes. The grasses and seed bearing plants grow quicker than other food plants so would have provided a more accessible source of sustenance when game had become scarce. Meanwhile, at https://phys.org/news/2019-07-ancient-genomics-rapid-turnover-cattle.html -- ancient genomes pinpoint the origin and rapid turnover of cattle in the fertile crescent. It seems the keeping of livestock (as opposed to the managing of wild herds) began in the Near East. DNA has been used to reveal the prehistory of the milk cow. Geneticists from Trinity College in Dublin have aquired 67 ancient genomes from wild and domestic cattle across 8000 years. It seems the 2300BC event played a significant role once again. Descendants of Indus Valley cattle are now herded around the world,