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An Evolutionary Anectdote - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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An Evolutionary Anectdote [Jan. 30th, 2008|04:51 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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"D.K. Belyaev and his colleagues took captive silver foxes, Vulpes vulpes, and set out systematically to breed for tameness. They succeeded, dramatically. By mating together the tamest individuals of each generation, Belyaev had, within 20 years, produced foxes that behaved like border collies, actively seeking human company and wagging their tails when approached. That is not very surprising, although the speed with which it happened may be. Less expected were the by-products of selection for tameness. These genetically tamed foxes not only behaved like collies, they looked like collies. They grew black-and-white coats, with the white face patches and muzzles. Instead of the characteristic pricked ears of a wild fox, they developed 'lovable' floppy ears. Their reproductive hormone balance changed, and they assumed the habit of breeding all the year round instead of in a breeding season. Probably associated with the lowered aggression, they were found to contain higher levels of the neurally active chemical serotonin. It took only 20 years to turn foxes into 'dogs' by artificial selection."

- Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

[User Picture]From: rev_jo
2008-01-30 10:36 pm (UTC)
there was a very interesting show about this on the History (or discovery, i think) channel last month.. dealt with all the changes that domestication has wrought on what was once a wolf..

there was also another show dealing with all of the modern problems of dog breeds, from forced inbreeding and development of negative traits to behavior problems stemming from dogs now being kept as almost purely housepets, when they were developed for specific jobs or skills..

i realize that all dogs are descended from wolves, but its hard to believe when i see a chihuahua in a purse...
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2008-01-31 04:17 pm (UTC)

The Descent of Dog

It is hard to believe, isn't it? But evolution is a very weird and wonderful process.

Another thing Dawkins points out early on in the aforementioned volume is that our genes evolve at different rates. For example, some of my genes are probably more closely-related to a particular chimpanzee's than they our to yours.

Cousins all the way back to the primordial soup; it gives me the shivers when I think about it.

Edited at 2008-01-31 04:26 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rev_jo
2008-01-31 04:29 pm (UTC)

Re: The Descent of Dog

i think the primordial soup has gotten moldy...

cousins closer still, if you believe in Mitochondrial Eve and all that...
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2008-02-02 01:56 am (UTC)

Re: The Descent of Dog

I am inclined to accept the mitochondria Eve hypothesis but, as Dawkins pointed out, other bits of our collective genome may be more and less recent than that one.

Cousins with fellow humans, yes; what gives me the shivers is the intimacy we share with non-humans.
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