the Appearance of the Fox home became a new stage in the evolution of wild animals
After 50 years of experimentation, Russian genetics was able to do what the ancients could not achieve for thousands of years. On a farm near Novosibirsk scientist Dmitry Belyaev selectively bred foxes for hundreds of generations, to eventually create something that previously no one has ever seen: domesticated Fox. His goal was to recreate the process by which people were able to transform the once wild dogs in Pets, his faithful friends and helpers. And to see if there could be similar with other types. But as the Russian scientist all it managed?
To achieve his goal, Belyaev selected the most docile in his opinion the Fox he could find on fur farms throughout Russia. He then bred them for several generations, each time selecting only the most tame individuals. This is similar to the process that is nowadays used by breeders to develop new breeds of animals, or as the ancient farmers would grow the most hardy crops with higher yields.
Geneticist found that this technique is suitable for the domestication of foxes. His experiment began in the late 1950-ies (!), and by the early 2000s, almost all foxes on the farm have shown changes in behavior, writes the BBC. They became almost aggressive, adequately respond to human presence and could even eat out of his hand.
Fox has stopped showing signs of aggression almost 50 years after the start of the experiment
Generally, foxes are considered one of the most difficult animals to tame. If someone fails, then, as a rule, this exception to the rule, a maximum of 1-2 Fox. But Belyaev was able to bring a whole new kind of home Fox. They are more like dogs than foxes in the wild — wag their tails and revive in the presence of people and not show any fear or aggression, usual for foxes and other wild animals. In addition, they like it when they kiss they licked the faces of the trainers — all of these behaviours are typical for socialized dogs.
And all this has been achieved without any training and intervention from researchers. The only thing they have done is selectively bred those foxes which in their opinion are better people.
In their nature and in their diet includes more than 400 species of different animals, including small rodents and even snakes. At the same time, they have many natural predators, like badgers, wolves, lynxes and bears. It is noted that the domestic foxes have not lost the ability to hunt, they just started to live in harmony with man.
One of the professors of natural science and environmental journalism from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, was able to visit the farm and look at the home of Lis own eyes.
They crave human contact at the genetic level, — she says, — so the Fox was so tied to a man I've never seen.
Home of the foxes are not only behavioral changes. Over time, these foxes began to look different: their ears become softer, feet, tails, and muzzle shorter, and the skull — is wider. Even their breeding habits have changed, and now they mated out of season and had on average one additional offspring.
Domesticated foxes became more like dogs
Probably the reasons for this lie in the neurological and endocrinological changes that occur Lis the result of selective breeding, says the Institute of Cytology and genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, currently oversees the farm.
In this article I discussed the changes caused by domestication, and it was found that compared to wild foxes domesticated animals show a different level of certain chemicals in their brain. For example, their adrenal glands aren't as active, but domestic foxes have higher the serotonin levels. Serotonin likely plays a key role in the suppression of aggressive behavior.
Physical changes in the foxes, similar changes in dogs are probably a byproduct of behavioral selection. Sagging their ears can be caused by a slowing of the adrenal glands, and other physical differences could also be related to differences in hormone levels, which lead to the different signs. Dog probably went through the same process for hundreds of generations, after which they .
The Belyaev Experiment shows that human theories of domestication are not only accurate, but also the workers; in fact, we've bent the arc of evolution in our favor. Moreover, the process of domestication of new species not only affects their behaviour; domestication changes their appearance and change the rhythms of their lives. So, among foxes is not limited.
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