Using ancient DNA, researchers determined cattle were imported from Africa to the Americas much earlier in the process of European colonization than documented. The first records of African cattle in the Americas date back to the 1800s, leading some historians to conclude that early colonists relied entirely on a small stock of European cattle initially shipped to the Caribbean Islands.

two hands in blue latex cloves holding small fossil
Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

DNA from archaeological specimens pushes the introduction of African cattle back by more than 100 years.

The study sparked a conversation about history and culture in this part of the world, and how science can add texture to events where written records are vague or absent. Nicolas Delsol, lead author on the study, spoke to several journalists who wanted to learn more, including the team on Discovery Files Podcast, a project from the National Science Foundation.

In the episode, Nicolas discusses his work examining the ancient DNA from cattle bones recovered from several key archaeological sites and how this new information adds to the story of Spanish colonial history in the Americas.

Read the full article: Ancient DNA reveals an early African origin of cattle in the Americas