1st bioengineered hybrid animals discovered — in ancient Mesopotamia

Animal bones at Umm el-Marra were thought to be from kungas because their teeth had bit harness marks and wear patterns that showed they had been fed rather than left to graze. (Image credit: Glenn Schwartz/Johns Hopkins University)

Mesopotamians used hybrid donkeys and wild asses to pull their chariots of war 4,500 years ago – at least 500 years before horses were bred for this purpose, a new study reveals.

The analysis of the old DNA from animal bones discovered in northern Syria resolves a long-standing question about what kind of animals were the “kungas” described in ancient sources as pulling chariots of war.

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