Hybrids are animals born from the cross-section of different species and, by their nature, have attributes of both breeds. The most famous results of such matings are the mule and the ligre, the largest terrestrial feline born from the intersection between tiger and lion. According to a recent study, these hybrids were already used to raise war donkeys.
A research team from the University of Paris, in collaboration with international scholars, discovered that, already 4,500 years ago, the Mesopotamian populations exploited the techniques of hybridization between species to cross domesticated donkeys with wild woodwork, And this was about half a millennium before the horse breeding.
The discovery and genetic analysis of animal bone findings, found in Syria, has allowed to give an answer to one of the questions that has always tormented historians. What were the creatures, called kungas, who, according to the scriptures, drew war chariots?
Eva-Maria Geigl, co-author of the study and geneticist at the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris, said “From skeletons, we knew they were equids, but they did not fit the size of donkeys and did not fit
The analysis conducted by the study suggests that kungas were hybrids generated by a female domestic donkey and a male wild species. They were very powerful and fast creatures, even if they were sterile.
In the ancient texts of Mesopotamian populations, kungas were described not only as animals with remarkable physical characteristics, but as a real luxury. They were a high-quality commodity, whose difficulty in reproduction made it very expensive. Moreover, in need of mating between domestic and wild males, it was necessary to find the latter in nature and this was not a simple task.
The wild specimens were much faster, stronger and stubborn than the domestic donkeys. They had such an unmanageable temperament that often such characteristic tas were handed down to kungas, making them more difficult to house.
According to Geigl, these ancient populations “They have truly bioengineered these hybrids and continuing “they were the first hybrids in absolute, as far as we know, and they had to do it every time for every kunga that was produced, so this explains why they were
The bone finds analysed by the study were found ten years ago by Jill Weber, archaeologist of the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the study. The scientist had already assumed that such bones belonged to kungas, mentioned in Mesopotamian cuneiform texts, since the teeth of animals showed signs of wear from harnesses and from nutrition controlled by humans.
The kungas expressed a higher speed and power than the horses and it seems to be precisely this reason the origin of their use in towing the wagons during the war expeditions. After several centuries, kungas were replaced by horses, due to the greater ease of breeding horses and their more manageable temperament.
Speaking of surreal creatures, here are the animals of the future the whale rat and the predator pigeon.