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Multiple lines of evidence of early goose domestication in a 7,000-y-old rice cultivation village in the lower Yangtze River, China

  • Eda, Masaki
  • Itahashi, Yu
  • Kikuchi, Hiroki
  • Sun, Guoping
  • Hsu, Kai-hsuan
  • Gakuhari, Takashi
  • Yoneda, Minoru
  • Jiang, Leping
  • Yang, Guomei
  • Nakamura, Shinichi
Published Article
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Mar 07, 2022
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2117064119
PMID: 35254874
PMCID: PMC8944903
PubMed Central
  • Social Sciences
  • Anthropology


Poultry are farmed globally, with chicken ( Gallus gallus domesticus ) being the leading domesticated species. Although domestic chicken bones have been reported from some Early Holocene sites, their origin is controversial and there is no reliable domestic chicken bone older than the Middle Holocene. Here, we studied goose bones from Tianluoshan—a 7,000-y-old rice cultivation village in the lower Yangtze River valley, China—using histological, geochemical, biochemical, and morphological approaches. Histological analysis revealed that one of the bones was derived from a locally bred chick, although no wild goose species breed in southern China. The analysis of oxygen-stable isotope composition supported this observation and further revealed that some of the mature bones were also derived from locally bred individuals. The nitrogen-stable isotope composition showed that locally bred mature birds fed on foods different from those eaten by migrant individuals. Morphological analysis revealed that the locally bred mature birds were homogenous in size, whereas radiocarbon dating clearly demonstrated that the samples from locally bred individuals were ∼7,000 y old. The histological, geochemical, biochemical, morphological, and contextual evidence suggest that geese at Tianluoshan village were at an early stage of domestication. The goose population appears to have been maintained for several generations without the introduction of individuals from other populations and may have been fed cultivated paddy rice. These findings indicate that goose domestication dates back 7,000 y, making geese the oldest domesticated poultry species in history.

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