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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Mediaeval cattle from Bern (Switzerland): An archaeozoological, genetic and historical approach

Svensson, Emma; Häsler, Stephan; Nussbaumer, Marc; Rehazek, André; Omrak, Ayca; Götherström, Anders


This study deals with genetic analyses of an assemblage of mediaeval (13th century) cattle metapodials from Bern that had previously been osteometrically examined regarding sex, shape and wither height. The results from the genetic sexing of these small (height 100 to 120 cm) cattle correlate well with the osteometric interpretations. Some few exceptions we interpreted as cows used as draft animals with stouter bones and thus osteometrically determined as males. Two morphologically different groups of cow metatarsals however, we took as proof of the historical fact that Bern relied on livestock from different geographical origins: the town's vicinity and the alpine pastures with their favourable grazing conditions. It was not possible to distinguish them genetically. An analysis of one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) showed that predominant coat colour most likely was red-brown. Furthermore, an analysis of the SNP in the Y-chromosomal intron UTY19 that divide modern taurine cattle in two major haplogroups (Y1 and Y2) showed that the mediaeval cattle belonged to the haplogroup Y2 with one single exception of a Y1.

Published in

Schweizer Archiv für Tierheilkunde
2014, Volume: 156, number: 1, pages: 17-26

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    Genetics and Breeding

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