|Short-Horned Water Buffalo|
The Short-horned Water Buffalo (Bubalus mephistopheles) is an extinct species of Water Buffalo. Fossils have been found in Shaanxi, China durind the Pleistocene.
On the origin of the Bubalus bubalis in China
Since Bubalus Mephistopheles remains were successfully identified on the Yin Ruins, Anyang,in the 1930's,most of the researchers have regarded this species of buffalo as a domestic stock originated indigenously.The discovery of the Hemudu site in the 1970's reinforced this notion,and many scholars believe that Neolithic and Bronze Age buffaloes in China were inseparable from paddy rice cultivation.The present paper challenges these traditional views.In this interdisciplinary study the authors examine all the buffalo remains unearthed from Pleistocene and Holocene sites in China.They use available data from archaeology,zooarchaeology,DNA tests,ethnohistory and ethnography to inquire into the evolution,man's exploitation and extinction of wild buffaloes in China,as well as the origins of the modern Chinese domestic buffalo.It is their conclusion that all the indigenous buffaloes in China were wild species,while the domestic buffalo was most likely to have been introduced from South Asia round the first millennium BC.Buffalo-plough farming in south China may have developed in the early first millennium AD,probably with the inspiration of cattle and iron-plough farming from north China.This study also provides clues to investigatingthedevelopment,evolutionandspreadofbuffalo-relatedrice-growing techniques,the relationships between the improvement of productive technology and the emergence of complex society,and the cultural interaction between China and South-and- Southeast Asia.This research is the first step towards understanding the wild and domestic buffaloes in China;more morphological analyses and DNA tests are needed to investigate whether gene flow occurred between the introduced domestic buffalo and the ancient wild ones in China.