Y-chromosomal haplotypes in prehistoric horses

to elucidate domestication, early human land settlement, migration waves and warlike operations

The history of mankind is inseparably linked to that of the horse. The utilization of horses revolutionised transport and warfare. The migration of ancient human tribes lead to the dispersal of horses from Eurasia to Europe interconnected with the spread of cultural signs and language. Since the beginning of domestication, stallions have a particular impact regarding representativeness and breeding value.

The Y chromosome of the horses is very small (only about 1% of the haploid genome). The non-recombinant part of the Y chromosome is always passed on from father to son. With variable Y-chromosomal markers patrilines can be constructed.

First sequencing studies of modern horse breeds unfortunately showed no sequence diversity on the Y chromosome. By means of next generation sequencing (NGS), however, we found six different haplotypes in modern breeds and were able to show that haplotype 3, which dominates almost all of the studied English Thoroughbred horses and many Warmblood horses, developed by a mutation of HT2 in the Thoroughbred line Eclipse (*1764). In the meantime, we have numerous markers that lead us to detailed knowledge about the stallions in modern horse breeds.

Within the framework of the project, paternal genealogies with variable markers on the Y chromosome are to be created back to the time of the neolithic (domestication) with samples from cemetery analyses and individual findings of horse skeletons. Recent and historical Y-chromosomal horse haplotypes will also provide information for certain human-archeological questions through the genealogical assignment of horses.



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Presented Papers


  • S. Reiter, Genetic analysis in historic horses are key to find the ancestry of present stallion lines. Sharjah Archaeology Authority, Sharjah, Vereinigte Arabische Emirate (02.05.2018).