The recent paper authored by Evan Irving-Pease, Laurent Frantz, Naomi Sykes, Cécile Callou and Greger Larson has challenged the mythology surrounding the domestication of rabbits, widely held to have occurred around 600AD after a decree by Pope Gregory allowed rabbit meat to be eaten during Lent. Published in Ecology & Evolution, the paper outlines a much more complex picture of rabbit domestication as a continuum, rather than a short series of historically localised events.
Greger Larson explains: 'The origins of many of our domestic animals make for great bed-time stories, but these myths need to be questioned so that we can really figure out how we got so close to so many pets and livestock... What was really interesting to me was why nobody has really thought about it or been critical about it. We really have trouble appreciating slow, continuous change over long periods of time, even though that’s how most change happens. Our narrative structures work much better if you have a eureka moment.’
Read the paper here.
See some of the extensive media coverage here.