Yesterday’s Brainfood included the paper “Genetic diversity evolution of a sheep breed reintroduced after extinction: Tracing back Christopher Columbus’ first imported sheep,” which sounds intriguing sufficient from the title and summary to piss off quite a lot of our readers for the remainder being behind a paywall. Actually, although, it’s on ResearchGate. But it’s an extended learn, so right here’s the brief model, which additionally attracts from an article in FAO’s publication Animal Genetic Resources Information relationship again to 2000.
Before being conquered by the Spaniards within the late 15th century, the Canary Islands had been residence to non-wooly (i.e. furry) sheep. This is shocking as a result of close by Northwest Africa has had largely wooly sheep from 4000–3000 BC. Hairy sheep are tailored to humid tropical situations and are extra prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. They could have been taken to the Canaries between 3000–2000 BC by the primary inhabitants of the islands throughout an episode of northern enlargement throughout a interval of extra beneficial local weather.
From the Canaries, they had been taken to the Caribbean, beginning with Columbus’ second journey, and thereafter unfold by means of the Americas. There, they had been crossed with different furry breeds introduced from sub-Saharan Africa with the slave commerce. Meanwhile, they finally went extinct again within the Canary Islands, on account of cross-breeding with extra productive sheep, and adjustments within the agricultural system on account of Spanish colonization.
In the 1950’s, nonetheless, furry sheep had been re-introduced into the Canaries from Venezuela. The ensuing present inhabitants of Canary Hair Sheep appears to have pretty excessive range, excessive census and efficient inhabitants sizes, and passable numbers of new child animals registered per yr. It thus appears to be instance of profitable “recreation” (or as close to as one can determine it) of an extinct breed.