It seems the common pig took a rather strange route to become the pig it is today, according to a team of international researchers that include a Texas A&M University genome expert. The team has found pigs have the genetic makeup of European wild boars and have mostly lost their original identity they had roughly 10,000 years ago.
Their work is published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Anna Linderholm, director of the BiG (bioarchaeology and genomics) Laboratory and an archaeologist at Texas A&M, and a team of worldwide researchers sequenced DNA from hundreds of pigs collected from the Near East and Europe. They found that the first pigs to arrive in Europe and live alongside farmers 8,000 to 10,000 years ago had a definite Near Eastern genetic history. But over the next 3,000 years or so, almost all the pigs mingled with European wild boars, so much so that they lost all the original identity.
The pigs became more genetically like the Europeans boars, and throughout this change they did keep typical domesticated signals which showed in their coats and colors, ranging from black to brown and eventually spotted.
“Having access to ancient genomes over such a large space and time has allowed us to see the slow-motion replacement of the entire genome of domestic pigs,” the team said in a statement. “This suggests that pig management in Europe over millennia was extensive, and that though swineherders maintained selection for some coat colors, domestic pigs interacted with wild boar frequently enough that they lost the ancestral signature of the wild boar from which they were derived.[…]