Timeline: The Domestication of Animals
While dogs weren’t always our docile companions, research indicates that they were likely one of the first animals to be domesticated by humans. In fact, genetic evidence suggests that dogs split from their wild wolf ancestors around 33,000 years ago.
When did humans domesticate other animals, and why? This timeline highlights the domestication period of 15 different animals, based on archeological findings.
Because exact timing is tricky to pinpoint and research on the topic is ongoing, these estimates may vary by thousands of years.
The domestication of animals is a particular process that’s done through selective breeding. Generally speaking, domestic animals follow most of these criteria:
- Genetically distinct from their wild ancestors and more human-friendly as a genetic trait.
- Dependent on humans for food and reproduction.
- They’re extremely difficult or impossible to breed with wild counterparts.
- Show the physical traits of domestication syndrome, such as smaller skulls, floppy ears, or coat color variations.
Domestication is not the same as taming an animal, which is when humans condition wild animals to live in captivity.
While some research suggests that domestic animals can prosper in the wild, domestic animals are typically more susceptible to predators since they lack some of the advantages, instincts, or traits that help their wild counterparts survive in nature.
Key Reasons for the Domestication of Animals
Humans domesticate animals for a number of reasons: some have been domesticated for food, work, companionship, or a combination of all three.
After dogs, livestock animals such as sheep, cows, and pigs are thought to have been some of the first animals to become domesticated by humans. This was around the same time that humanity shifted from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to an agricultural society.
|Domesticated Animal||Primary Type||Estimated Domestication Period||Origin|
|Sheep||Livestock||9,000 BCE||Middle East|
|Goat||Livestock||8,500 BCE||Middle East|
|Pig||Livestock||8,300 BCE||Middle East|
|Cow||Livestock||8,300 BCE||Middle East|
|Cat||Pet||7,500 BCE||Middle East|
|Zebu (Humped Cow)||Livestock||6,000 BCE||South Asia|
|Llama||Livestock||4,000 BCE||South America|
|Horse||Work||3,500 BCE||Central Asia|
|Alpaca||Livestock||3,000 BCE||South America|
|Bactrian Camel (two-humped)||Work||2,500 BCE||Central Asia|
|Chicken||Livestock||2,000 BCE||East Asia/Middle East|
|Arabian Camel (one-humped)||Work||1,000 BCE||Middle East|
|Turkey||Livestock||0 CE||North America|
|Duck||Livestock||1,000 CE||East Asia/Middle East|
Horses are thought to be some of the first animals domesticated for work. Scientific research suggests that the modern horse originated in Central Asia, and were selectively bred for their exceptional back strength and overall resilience.
When it comes to domesticating animals, herbivores (like cows) are generally the easiest to convert because they’re easier to feed than animals that rely on meats or grains, which need to be sourced or domesticated themselves.
Domestication Has Shaped Modern Humanity
The domestication of species has helped create our modern society. Domesticating plants and animals created a world with stable food production, which enabled the human population to boom worldwide.
This is because agriculture meant fewer people could provide more food to humans on a mass scale, so people had more time to focus on other things like creative pursuits, scientific research, etc. This gave us time to create tools that helped boost efficiencies in farming and agriculture, leading to the world as we know it today.
Visualizing the Global Coffee Trade by Country
Which countries export, and import, the most coffee? This visual highlights the global coffee trade by export flows in 2019.
Visualizing the Global Coffee Trade by Country
From drip coffees to decadent lattes, every cup of coffee begins its journey from the humble coffee bean. A massive global coffee trade moves these beans from farms in one country to cafes in another.
In this piece, Airi Ryu uses data from Chatham House’s resourcetrade.earth to track the global trade of unroasted and non-decaffeinated coffee beans in 2019, highlighting the world’s top coffee exporters and importers.
The Biggest Exporters in the Global Coffee Trade
Close to 84% of the world’s coffee bean exports come from just 10 countries.
All these countries are found in the “Bean Belt” between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn where coffee grows best. These top coffee-producing nations include Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia.
Here are the top coffee exporting nations in 2019:
|Rank||Country||Coffee Exports (Tonnes)||Share of Total|
|n/a||🌍 Others (re-export)||0.40M||5.2%|
The South American nations of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru export nearly 42% of the global coffee beans. Brazil exported over 2.2 million tonnes in 2019 alone, more than a quarter of the global coffee trade.
Across the Pacific, Vietnam and Indonesia together exported 23.4% of the world’s coffee beans in 2019. Other major exporters include the Central American nations of Honduras and Guatemala, which combined for 8.7% of global coffee bean exports, and the African nations Uganda and Ethiopia with 6.7% combined.
Biggest Coffee Bean Importers, By Country
On the other side of the global coffee trade are nations with high demand for coffee dominating import shares. Many of these importing nations also re-export coffee beans to other parts of the world under their own local brands.
Here are the top coffee importing nations in 2019:
|Rank||Country||Coffee Imports (Tonnes)||Share of Total|
|9||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||0.18M||2.4%|
|10||🇷🇺 Russian Federation||0.18M||2.4%|
The U.S. is the largest importer of coffee beans in the world, bringing in 1.5 million tonnes of unroasted coffee beans in 2019, equivalent to 19.3% of all exports that year. While Brazil and Colombia are its biggest sources of coffee, beans imported from Asia and Central America also thrive thanks to a strong specialty coffee culture.
Europe is also a massive destination for coffee bean exports. Germany led the way with 14.2% of global coffee imports, while Italy accounted for 8.3%.
A brewing coffee culture in Japan has made the country a major player in the global coffee trade. In 2019, Japan was the fourth-largest coffee bean importer in the world and far and away the leading importer in Asia.
As the desire for coffee continues to permeate throughout the world, and as climate change puts a strain on coffee production (and vice versa), the flows of coffee beans are sure to change in the coming decades.
War5 days ago
Ranked: Share of Global Arms Exports in 2022
Automotive2 weeks ago
Visualized: EV Market Share in the U.S.
Maps1 week ago
Interactive Map: The World as 1,000 People
Brands1 week ago
Ranked: Average Black Friday Discounts for Major Retailers
Brands1 week ago
Ranked: Fast Food Brands with the Most U.S. Locations
Economy1 week ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Imports from U.S. Trading Partners
Markets1 week ago
Ranked: The Biggest Retailers in the U.S. by Revenue
Globalization1 week ago
The Top 50 Largest Importers in the World