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Study: Longhorn ancestry spans globe, centuries

Sunday - 5/26/2013, 12:51pm  ET

Associated Press

PONTOTOC, Texas (AP) -- A genetic analysis of Texas Longhorns shows the cattle breed shares a diverse, globe-spanning ancestry and mirrors the self-sufficiency of Texans.

The Longhorn's roots have been traced back thousands of years to the Middle East and Asia, with direct descendants crossing the Atlantic Ocean with Christopher Columbus.

The breed grew longer horns to protect against New World predators and even rebounded from a post-Civil War beef demand that decimated the herds.

University of Texas biologist David Hillis says people admire Longhorns because they see the same characteristics humans have needed to thrive in Texas.

Hillis helped conduct the yearslong project with a UT doctoral student and University of Missouri researchers. They examined some 48,000 genetic markers on DNA from 58 cattle breeds.

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