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Once You Go Black: Study Shows Humans Throughout History Prefer Black Pigs Than Others

Sep 08, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

Strange but true: the Polynesians, Europeans and Chinese all love black pigs. But why? And could humans' unusual interest in the dark-skinned breed of pigs play a part in their proliferation?

According to the recent study published in the Royal Society Open Journal, it's important to understand the origins of the feral pigs because of its negative impact on native plants and animals. The modern feral pigs in Hawaii have uprooted and eaten vegetations as well as preyed on eggs of native birds, a report from Phys Org revealed. The study is hoping to get an idea on how to properly manage the population of the species.

Professor Greger Larson from Oxford University led the team in examining the DNA of modern feral Hawaiian pigs, finding that a novel mutation was the cause of their dark color. It turns out, wild pigs would have had naturally camouflaged coats, but humans have been chosing and breeding black-skinned domesticated pigs in different parts of the world for thousand of years.

There's really no complex reason for man's partiality to black pigs; the reason lies firmly in its novelty. Polynesians introduced feral pigs to Hawaii some 800 years ago and the species have played an important role in their culture since.

"The first pigs introduced to Hawaii by the Polynesians were kept as domestic animals," senior author Professor Greger Larson from the Palaeogenomics and Bio-Archaeology Research Network at the University of Oxford said. "No wild boar have black colours since natural selection only allows camouflaged pigs to survive long enough to reproduce. Humans, on the other hand, love all kinds of coloured coats and have selected for black coats at least three times independently in domestic pigs in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. In the case of pigs, black has always been the new black."

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