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Ancient DNA reveals the lost domestication history of South American camelids in Northern Chile and across the Andes

By Paloma Diaz-Maroto, Alba Rey de la Iglesia, Isabel Cartajena Fasting, Lautaro Núñez Atencio, Michael Vincent Westbury, Valeria Varas, Mauricio Moraga Vergara, Paula F Campos, Pablo Orozco ter Wengel, Juan Carlos Marin, Anders J. Hansen

Posted 19 Oct 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.16.337428

The study of South American camelids and their domestication is a highly debated topic in zooarchaeology. Identifying domestic species (alpaca and llama) in archaeological sites based on morphometry is challenging because of similarity with respect to their wild ancestors. In this study, we generated mitogenomes for 61 ancient camelids dated between 3,500 - 2,400 years BP (Early Formative period) from two archaeological sites in Northern Chile (Tulán 54 and 85), as well as 66 modern camelid mitogenomes and 815 extant control region sequences from across South America. A comparative analysis was performed between genetics and osteometric data. We propose a model of domestication that includes an ancient guanaco population that no longer exists and a loss of ancient vicuña genetic variation since the Early Formative period. Finally, we find evidence that interbreeding practices were widespread during the domestication process by the early populations in the Atacama Desert predating the Spanish conquest. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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