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Animal Domestication Table of Dates and Places

When and Where Animal Domestication Occurred

By

Chickens, Chang Mai, Thailand

Chickens, Chang Mai, Thailand

David Wilmot

Animal domestication is what scholars call the process of developing the mutually useful relationship between animals and humans. Over the past 12,000 years, humans have learned to control their access to food and other necessities of life by changing the behaviors and natures of wild animals. All of the animals that we use today, such as dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, camels, geese, horses, and pigs, started out as wild animals but were changed over the centuries and millennia into tamer, quieter animals. Some of the ways people benefit from a domesticated animal include keeping cattle in pens for access to milk and meat and for pulling plows; training dogs to be guardians and companions; teaching horses to adapt to the plow or take a rider; and changing the lean, nasty wild boar into a fat, friendly farm animal.

Different animals were domesticated in different parts of the world at different times. The following table describes when and where different animals were turned from wild beasts to be hunted or avoided, into animals we could live with and rely on. The table summarizes the current understandings of the earliest likely domestication date for each of the animal species, and a very rounded figure for when that might have happened. Live links on the table lead to additional information on the specific animals.

Thanks to Ronald Hicks at Ball State University for suggestions. Similar information on the domestication dates and places of plants is found on the Table of Plant Domestication.

Sources

See table listing for details on specific animals.

Zeder MA. 2008. Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105(33):11597-11604.

Domestication Table

Animal Where Domesticated Date
Dog undetermined ~14-30,000 BC?
Sheep Western Asia 8500 BC
Cat Fertile Crescent 8500 BC
Goats Western Asia 8000 BC
Pigs Western Asia 7000 BC
Cattle Eastern Sahara 7000 BC
Chicken Asia 6000 BC
Guinea pig Andes Mountains 5000 BC
Taurine Cattle Western Asia 6000 BC
Zebu Indus Valley 5000 BC
Llama and Alpaca Andes Mountains 4500 BC
Donkey Northeast Africa 4000 BC
Horse Kazakhstan 3600 BC
Silkworm China 3500 BC
Bactrian camel China or Mongolia 3500 BC
Honey Bee Near East or Western Asia 3000 BC
Dromedary camel Saudi Arabia 3000 BC
Banteng Thailand 3000 BC
Water buffalo Pakistan 2500 BC
Duck Western Asia 2500 BC
Yak Tibet 2500 BC
Goose Germany 1500 BC
Mongoose? Egypt 1500 BC
Reindeer Siberia 1000 BC
Turkey Mexico 100 BC-AD 100
Muscovy duck South America AD 100
Ostrich South Africa AD 1866

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