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Genetic evidence for the origin of the agrimi goat (Capra aegagrus cretica)

Authors

  • Gila Kahila Bar-Gal,

    1. Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, National Cancer Institute, Frederick 21702-1201, MD, U.S.A.
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  • Patricia Smith,

    1. Laboratory of Bioanthropology and Ancient DNA, Department of Anatomy and Embryology, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, P.O. Box 12272, Jerusalem 91120, Israel
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  • Eitan Tchernov,

    1. Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, Faculty of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Charles Greenblatt,

    1. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, P.O. Box 12272, Jerusalem 91120, Israel
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  • Pierre Ducos,

    1. Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, Faculty of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Armelle Gardeisen,

    1. CNRS-UMR 154, CDAR, 390 Route de Perols, F-34 970, Lattes, France
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  • Liora Kolska Horwitz

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, Faculty of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
      *All correspondence to: L. K. Horwitz
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*All correspondence to: L. K. Horwitz

Abstract

The agrimi goat Capra aegagrus cretica is unique to Crete and its offshore islands. It has been identified as a sub-species of the wild bezoar goat Capra aegagrus aegagrus Erxleben, 1777, which it closely resembles in horn shape, body form and coloration. This classification has been disputed by some researchers who claim that the agrimi are feral goats, derived from early domestic stock brought to the island by the first Neolithic settlers. In order to clarify this issue, DNA analyses (cytochrome b and D loop sequences) were carried out on tissue of live and skeletonized agrimi and compared to sequences of wild and domestic caprines. Results conclusively show the agrimi to be a feral animal, that clades with domestic goats (Capra hircus) rather than with wild Asiatic bezoar. This study demonstrates that morphometric criteria do not necessarily reflect genetic affinities, and that the taxonomic classification of agrimi should be revised.

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