Size reduction in early european domestic cattle relates to intensification of neolithic herding strategies

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Abstract

© 2015 Manning et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Our analysis of over 28,000 osteometric measurements from fossil remains dating between c. 5600 and 1500 BCE reveals a substantial reduction in body mass of 33% in Neolithic central European domestic cattle. We investigate various plausible explanations for this phenotypic adaptation, dismissing climatic change as a causal factor, and further rejecting the hypothesis that it was caused by an increase in the proportion of smaller adult females in the population. Instead we find some support for the hypothesis that the size decrease was driven by a demographic shift towards smaller newborns fro m sub-adult breeding as a result of intensifying meat production strategies during the Neolithic.

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Manning, K., Timpson, A., Shennan, S., & Crema, E. (2015). Size reduction in early european domestic cattle relates to intensification of neolithic herding strategies. PLoS ONE, 10(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141873

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