Fiona Marshall, PhD, an archaeologist in the Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, was installed Feb. 10 as the inaugural James W. and Jean L. Davis Professor. The professorship is named in tribute to the lifelong contributions of the Davises to the university.
A recent interdisciplinary conference that led to the publication of a special issue of PNAS on domestication raised more questions than it answered. Washington University in St. Louis scientists Fiona Marshall and Ken Olsen, who participated in the conference and contributed to the special issue, discuss some of the key questions that have been raised about this pivotal event in human history.
A review of recent research on the domestication of large herbivores for “The Modern View of Domestication,” a special feature of PNAS, suggests that neither intentional breeding nor genetic isolation were as significant as traditionally thought.
Genetic investigators, include Fiona Marshall, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences, say that the partnership between people and the ancestors of today’s donkeys was sealed not by monarchs trying to establish kingdoms, but by mobile, pastoral people who had to recruit animals to help them survive the harsh Saharan landscape in northern Africa more than 5,000 years ago.