New York: Contradicting scientists who claimed that wild hens were first domesticated in the Indus Valley in what is now western India and Pakistan, a team of international scientists has credited the Chinese for introducing the practice.
The researchers obtained DNA sequences from 10,000 years old chicken fossils originating from northern China, and found these sequences were several thousand years older than any other ancient chicken DNA sequence reported previously.
Our results suggest that the oldest archaeological chicken bones recovered so far are from the ancestors of domestic hens, the study authors said.
Prior to this study, the oldest chicken DNA sequences came from birds that lived around 4,000 years ago, the Smithsonian magazine reported.
"Our analyses also suggest that northern China represents one region where the earliest chicken domestication took place, possibly dating as early as 10,000 years BP (Before Present)," said Xingbo Zhao, co-author of the new study from the China Agricultural University in Beijing.
The researchers examined 39 bird bones recovered from three archaeological sites along the Yellow river in northern China and one site in eastern China.
The study found that the bones, including the oldest from the Nanzhuangtou site, are derived from the genus Gallus, the same as modern-day domesticated chickens.
"Our results suggest that these early domesticated chickens contributed to the gene pool of modern chicken populations," the authors said.
The findings appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.