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Unifying Domestication and Evolution through Ancient DNA (UNDEAD)
Start date: Feb 1, 2014, End date: Jan 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago, human populations in numerous regions of the world forged closer relationships with plants and animals. This domestication process not only significantly altered the genetic, behavioural and phenotypic characteristics of all the species involved, it also laid the foundations for the first urban societies.This project will take advantage of revolutionary genetic technologies to characterise, for the first time, the nuclear genomes of ancient dogs, pigs, and chickens. By combining the resolution of thousands of DNA markers with the time depth of archaeology, this project will address major outstanding questions regarding the origins, pattern and processes of animal domestication. This project’s primary objective is to quantify degrees of gene flow between different populations of wild and domestic species in order to address where and how many times early animal domestication took place. I will also type dozens of mutations in ancient samples known to differentiate modern domestic and wild individuals. By doing so, I will determine when these key mutations first appeared and how often similar genes were selected for in different species.In addition, I will combine the use the high-resolution genetic datasets with cutting-edge morphological methods to demonstrate how quantifying admixture in domestic animals can be used to extend the range of archaeological questions that can be addressed, thereby furthering the field as a whole. More specifically, I will use domestic animals as a proxy to understand patterns of human migration across the Old World and as a measure of population connectivity that may have determined the success and failure of the first North Atlantic settlements.In sum, this timely and groundbreaking project will provide the first insights into the role of ancient admixture between wild and domestic animal populations leading to a sea change in our understanding of the animal domestication process."

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