Domesticated Before Chickens?

Domestic geese and goslings with caretaker (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

23 March 2022

Goose bones uncovered from a Stone Age village in eastern China indicate that geese may have been domesticated before chickens.

Researchers analyzed the size and chemical makeup of 232 goose bones and used carbon dating to determine they’re 7000 years old. A chemical analysis showed the birds drank nearby water, indicating they were all raised in the same location, and some bones came from baby geese that were too young to fly and must have hatched locally.

Science Magazine: Geese may have been the first domesticated birds

Chickens were domesticated 5,000 years ago so this finding upends the notion that they came first.

Who was domesticated before chickens?

Before agriculture began 10,000 years ago, humans were nomadic in their search for food. The first two animals to be domesticated — dogs and sheep — were easily nomadic as well.

Agriculture prompted humans to form permanent settlements, which led to a spurt of animal domestication to keep the meat supply nearby. Here’s the list from dogs to chickens.

Who was domesticated first?  

Dog15,000+ years ago

Sheep10,000 years ago
Pigeon10,000 years ago to 5,000 years ago
Cat9,500 years ago
Pig8,000 years ago

Cattle8,000 years ago
Goose7,000 years ago
Horse6,000 years ago
Chicken5,000 years ago

Quite a lot happened before chickens.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the images to see the originals)

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