Correlating Bayesian date estimates with climatic events and domestication using a bovine case study

Simon Y.W. Ho, Greger Larson, Ceiridwen J. Edwards, Tim H. Heupink, Kay E. Lakin, Peter W.H. Holland, Beth Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


The tribe Bovini contains a number of commercially and culturally important species, such as cattle. Understanding their evolutionary time scale is important for distinguishing between post-glacial and domestication-associated population expansions, but estimates of bovine divergence times have been hindered by a lack of reliable calibration points. We present a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of 481 mitochondrial D-loop sequences, including 228 radiocarbon-dated ancient DNA sequences, using a multi-demographic coalescent model. By employing the radiocarbon dates as internal calibrations, we co-estimate the bovine phylogeny and divergence times in a relaxed-clock framework. The analysis yields evidence for significant population expansions in both taurine and zebu cattle, European aurochs and yak clades. The divergence age estimates support domestication-associated expansion times (less than 12kyr) for the major haplogroups of cattle. We compare the molecular and palaeontological estimates for the Bison-Bos divergence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-374
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number4
Early online date17 Apr 2008
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


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