What Was The First Animal To Be Domesticated?
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What Was The First Animal To Be Domesticated?

Now what an interesting question that is. Which animal was the first to be domesticated? No idea? Read on to find out.

Now what an interesting question that is. Which animal was the first to be domesticated? No idea? Read on to find out.

Domestication is totally different from taming, it implies a degree of selective breeding. For example, an elephant can be tamed but elephants are not domesticated. When it comes to discussing what animal was first to be domesticated most people casually presume that it was either cats or dogs. It is neither, but the latter is close.

In fact the first animal to be domesticated was the Reindeer. It all goes back to 12,000 B.C when palaeolithic hunter-gatherers on the Russian/Mongolian border learned to lure reindeer away from their groups and breed them instead in to their own small heard.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Why the reindeer you may well ask. Simple economics really, the reindeer offered meat, milk and fur for clothing. It really was a multi-purpose animal. Not long after the reindeer was domesticated, the dog was also domesticated. Cats were domesticated circa. 10,000 B.C. Sheep and pigs were domesticated circa. 8,000 B.C and cattle circa 6,000 B.C.

Reindeer are normally nomadic animals that travel approx. 3,000 miles every year and can hit a top speed of 48mph on land and can swim at nearly 6 mph. They really are a fast, far travelling animal. It is estimated today that there are around three million domesticated reindeer in the world, most of which can be found in the wastes of Lapland. As an aside, the Lapps, who heard those reindeer, call themselves ‘Sami’, which interestingly is the ancient Swedish word for ‘chav’.

In North America, reindeer are known as ‘caribou’ which derives its name from xalibu, which means ‘one who digs’ in the Micmac language of eastern Canada. It is an apt name because reindeer user their large feet to dig through the snow to reach the lichen that lies beneath. Lichen makes up almost two-thirds of a reindeer’s diet.

So there you have it, the first animal to be domesticated was actually the reindeer. That would probably come as a surprise to most people, but that is because they don’t often consider it to be a domesticated animal. It certainly wouldn’t make as good a pet as a dog or a cat would. There would be a certain amount of novelty I suppose of having a reindeer as a pet but it would certainly cause quite a mess!


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Comments (2)

Great article! It would be convenient to have the reindeer standing around nearby, instead of having to chase them.

Your sources say that dogs weren't "domesticated" even by 12,000 BCE? Hummm . . . ?