Thursday, September 15, 2016

domesticating foxes

BBC article on how the Russians bred docile foxes.

no, foxes are wild and even if you raise them by hand, they stay wild.

But if you chose only the puppies that don't show signs of being wild, and keep chosing those with these traits, eventually you are able to get most of the litter with these traits.

"The main task at this stage of selection was eliminating defensive reactions to humans," Trut wrote in 1999. Animals that were friendlier and tolerant to human touch, even to a small degree, were picked out. Those that hid in the corner or made aggressive vocalisations were left in the farm...."As a result of such rigorous selection, the offspring exhibiting the aggressive and fear avoidance responses were eliminated from the experimental population in just two to three generations of selection," Trut wrote in a study published in 2009.

and what is more interesting is that their bodies changed

The domesticated foxes had floppier, drooping ears, which are found in other domestic animals such as dogs, cats, pigs, horses and goats. Curlier tails – also found in dogs and pigs – were also recorded.

the article ends by suggesting that humans, also, evolved not by dint of high IQ and aggressive traits but because those who were kind and gentle and reliable were more prone to reproduce.

In particular, one under-appreciated point about our species is that we have, essentially, domesticated ourselves. This is borne out in our behaviour. While we have committed our fair share of atrocities, on the whole we are far less aggressive and violent than our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. This suggests that human evolution selected for cooperation, tolerance and gentleness – and not, necessarily, for intelligence.

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