Saturday, June 18, 2011

Something FLG Never Understood

...was how human domesticated animals. It always bugged FLG. He just never bought that some human took a wild boar or wolf or whathaveyou and made it nice. Put simply -- while FLG agrees Nature and Nurture play a role, he never understood how humans could have overcome Nature with Nurture so completely, especially given that we haven't had any more success in this arena in several thousand years.

Well, FLG was at the dentist a few weeks ago and there was a magazine article about how an experiment to domesticate foxes has been going on for decades in Russia. This article contained a theory that made sense to FLG.

If certain individual wolves or boars were, through random genetic variation, either interested in or not as afraid of humans, then they might have found the areas around human settlements a good place to find food. These individual animals that were attracted to human settlements procreate and the offspring are even more attracted to humans. Over time, you have a different animal that is domesticated. Dogs instead of wolves. Pigs instead of boars. This makes much more sense to FLG than some ancient farmer imposed his will to domesticate wild beasts (but we haven't been able to since) theory.


Alpheus said...

This theory has been supported by all sorts of different research over the years -- and, as you say, it makes sense in a way that other theories don't. This old A&J post has links to articles about cat domestication.

Withywindle said...

I thought the idea had always been that it took a long time to make wolves tame.

My old A & J post on crocodile domestication also speaks to this.

Oh, wait, I never wrote that.

Robbo said...

I have read that it is a different matter with cats, that they never really have been "domesticated" in the same sense that dogs have been, but instead simply started exploiting the environment created for them by humans.

Makes sense, given my own cats' behavior.

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