A Pet Fox? Physical clues to Domestication

A Domesticated Fox

Good Morning, God!

I guess everyone knows that some wolves — way back when — figured out that hanging out with humans was a good idea and slowly became dogs.

That worked out well for dogs and for humans. And, it seems clear that an early human with a dog had a better chance of surviving than a human without a dog. Actually, I had never thought about that Dog / Man relationship helping both parties. I’d just thought it was good for the dogs.

In fact, God, I hadn’t given much thought to the process of domestication until I read an article in the March 2011 issue of National Geographic. Over 50 years ago, a biologist named Dmitry Belyaev gathered 130 foxes from fur farms with the idea of re-creating the evolution of wolves into dogs. It was a planned experiment in which the researchers selected for breeding the foxes most “comfortable” with people. It didn’t take long before they had young foxes that wagged their tails and wanted to bond with humans.

But, the program wasn’t just to breed friendly foxes but to study the genetics of the process. After just nine generations a “domestication phenotype” began to appear. The kits were born with curlier tails and floppier ears, and their coats were no longer a solid color. They didn’t just act different. They looked different.

The article concludes that domestication “appears to be a very complex phenotype.” So, I am sitting here thinking, God: What if “friendly” humans came with a telltale phenotype? What if we had “markers?”

Hmm. But, we can’t. And now that I think about it — isn’t that what prejudices try to get us to believe? That we can tell — by looking — what a person is like inside?

Ah, God, please give us a spirit of discernment.

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Story teller,

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Posted in Transitions, web of life

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