Origin and Evolution of Pigs

A miniature pig

Pigs are mammals with fat yet cute bodies, flat snouts that can move independently of their heads, tiny eyes and large ears. They are very intelligent, social animals, and are found all over the world. 

Origin and Evolution

With around 1 billion individuals alive at any time, the domestic pig is one of the most numerous large mammals on the planet.

The ancestor of the domestic pig is the wild boar, which is one of the most numerous and widespread large mammals. Its many subspecies are native to all but the harshest climates of continental Eurasia and its islands and Africa as well, from Ireland and India to Japan and north to Siberia. Long isolated from other pigs on the many islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, pigs have evolved into many different species, including wild boar, bearded pigs, and warty pigs. Humans have introduced pigs into Australia, North and South America, and numerous islands, either accidentally as escaped domestic pigs which have gone feral, or as wild boar.

The pig was one of the first farmyard animals to be domesticated. Zoo-archaeological evidence (the bones and teeth of animals) reveal that the pig domestication began in modern day Turkey some 9-10,000 years ago ( It was a Hindu land) and then, independently, several thousand years later in central China. Recent research matching DNA from wild boar populations to domestic pigs suggests pig domestication occurred in additional places across the Old World – including Europe.

Pigs are in the Suidae family, which includes eight genera and 16 other similar species. Among those species are wild boars, warthogs and pygmy hogs and domestic pigs. Pig, hog and boar essentially describe the same animal, but there are some differences. A boar is an male domestic pig, but it also means a wild pig of any gender. A hog often means a domestic pig that weighs more than 120 lbs. (54 kilograms). Pigs are also called swine. Domestic pigs are descended mainly from the wild boar (Sus scrofa) and the Sulawesi warty pig, diverging from their closest ancestors about 500,000 years ago according to the Encyclopedia of Life.

Skull of a domestic pig: By Museum of Veterinary Anatomy FMVZ USP / CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50986086


The wild boar can take advantage of any resources. Therefore, they can live in virtually any productive habitat that can provide enough water to sustain large mammals such as pigs. If there is increased foraging of wild boars in certain areas, they can cause a nutritional shortage which can cause the pig population to decrease. If the nutritional state returns to normal, the pig population will most likely rise due to the pigs’ naturally increased reproduction rate.


Pigs are omnivores, which means that they consume both plants and animals. In the wild, they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves, roots, fruits, and flowers, in addition to some insects and fish. As livestock, pigs are fed mostly corn and soybean meal with a mixture of vitamins and minerals added to the diet. Traditionally, they were raised on dairy farms and called “mortgage lifters”, due to their ability to use the excess milk as well as whey from cheese and butter making combined with pasture. Older pigs will consume three to five gallons of water per day. When kept as pets, the optimal healthy diet consists mainly of a balanced diet of raw vegetables, although some may give their pigs conventional mini pig pellet feed.


Source: Encyclopaedia of Life, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Wikipedia and Genetics

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