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Stone Age farmers brought own pigs to Europe

by 5m Editor
12 September 2007, at 10:12am

EUROPE - Pig fossil DNA has been used by scientists to determine the arrival of farmers into Europe during the latter days of the Stone Age.

A study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, revealed these early farmers migrated to Europe from the Middle East and brought along domesticated pigs.

"By harvesting ancient DNA from modern and pig specimens of Middle Eastern ancestry, we can demonstrate that domestic pigs from this region were definitely introduced into Europe 11,000 years ago, reaching Paris by at least the early 4th Century BC," said Alan Cooper of the University of Adelaide.

The findings quash a longstanding argument over whether the start of farming in Europe involved the migration of animals and plants, or whether the migrants just introduced the idea of domesticating animal populations.

"Many archaeologists believe that farming spread through the diffusion of ideas and cultural exchange, not with the direct migration of people," explained researcher Keith Dobney of Durham University.

5m Editor