Domestication Timeline

Part of the Horse exhibition.

Most of the domestic animals familiar to us today were domesticated not long after people began farming and living in permanent settlements, between 8000 and 2500 BC.

15,000 years ago
Canis familiaris
Asia and possibly elsewhere

Domestic dogs are descended from wolves (Canis lupus).

votive figure
Votive figure, Tibet, Early 1900's.
Denis Finnin/AMNH

10,000 years ago
Ovis aries
Middle East

8,000 years ago
Sus scrofa
Middle East and possibly China

8,000 years ago
Bos taurus
Middle East

Model Zebu, India, c. 1900
Denis Finnin/AMNH

6,000 years ago
Zebu Cattle
Bos indicus

Cattle were domesticated more than once, from different branches of the species Bos primigenius, or aurochs. One branch became Bos taurus, the domestic cattle that live in Europe and North America today. Another became Bos indicus, the humped cattle shown here.

6,000 years ago
Equus caballus
Central Asia

The DNA of domestic horses is very diverse. This suggests they may have been domesticated in more than one place, from several different wild horse populations.

4,500 years ago
Lama glama

Like sheep, cattle, and horses, llamas are naturally social. Domestic llama herds are often allowed to roam freely, and over the centuries, they have probably interbred many times with their wild relative, the guanaco (Lama guanicoe).