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Title: Domestication  
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Subject: Prehistoric technology, Guinea pig, Stone Age, Domestication of the horse, Agriculture
Collection: Domesticated Animals, History of Agriculture
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Dogs and sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated.

Domestication (from the Latin domesticus: "of the home") is the

  1. Flexible diet – Creatures that are willing to consume a wide variety of food sources and can live off less cumulative food from the food pyramid (such as corn or wheat), particularly food that is not utilized by humans (such as grass and forage) are less expensive to keep in captivity. Carnivores by definition feed primarily or only on flesh, which requires the domesticators to raise additional animals just to feed them, though they may exploit sources of meat not utilized by humans, such as scraps and vermin.
  2. Reasonably fast growth rate – Fast maturity rate compared to the human life span allows breeding intervention and makes the animal useful within an acceptable duration of caretaking. Some large animals require many years before they reach a useful size.
  3. Ability to be bred in captivity – Creatures that are reluctant to breed when kept in captivity do not produce useful offspring, and instead are limited to capture in their wild state. Creatures such as the panda, antelope and giant forest hog are territorial when breeding and cannot be maintained in crowded enclosures in captivity.
  4. Pleasant disposition – Large creatures that are aggressive toward humans are dangerous to keep in captivity. The African buffalo has an unpredictable nature and is highly dangerous to humans; similarly, although the American bison is raised in enclosed ranges in the Western United States, it is much too dangerous to be regarded as truly domesticated. Although similar to the domesticated pig in many ways, Africa's warthog and bushpig are also dangerous in captivity.
  5. Temperament which makes it unlikely to panic – A creature with a nervous disposition is difficult to keep in captivity as it may attempt to flee whenever startled. The gazelle is very flighty and it has a powerful leap that allows it to escape an enclosed pen. Some animals, such as the domestic sheep, still have a strong tendency to panic when their flight zone is encroached upon. However, most sheep also show a flocking instinct, whereby they stay close together when pressed. Livestock with such an instinct may be herded by people and dogs.
  6. Modifiable social hierarchy – Social creatures whose herds occupy overlapping ranges and recognize a hierarchy of dominance can be raised to recognize a human as the pack leader:
  7. Tapirs and rhinoceroses are solitary and do not tolerate being penned with each other.
  8. Antelope and deer—except for reindeer—are territorial when breeding and live in herds only for the rest of the year.
  9. Bighorn sheep and peccaries have non-hierarchical herd structures and do not follow any definite leader; instead, males fight continuously with each other for mating opportunities.
  10. Musk ox herds, although they have a defined leader, maintain mutually exclusive territories and two herds will fight if kept together.
  11. Cow domestication in North India for milk production.

    However, this list is of limited use because it fails to take into account the profound changes that domestication has on a species. While it is true that some animals retain their wild instincts even if born in captivity, e.g. laying hens,[13] pigs[14] and laboratory mice,[15] some factors must be taken into consideration.

    Number (5) may not be a prerequisite for domestication, but rather a natural consequence of a species' having been domesticated. In other words, wild animals are naturally timid and flighty because they are constantly faced by predators; domestic animals do not need such a nervous disposition, as they are protected by their human owners. The same holds true for number (4) – aggressive temperament is an adaptation to the danger from predators. A Cape buffalo can kill even an attacking lion, but most modern large domestic animals were descendants of aggressive ancestors. The wild boar, ancestor of the domestic pig, is certainly renowned for its ferocity; other examples include the aurochs (ancestor of modern cattle), horse, Bactrian camels and yaks, all of which are no less dangerous than their undomesticated wild relatives such as zebras and buffalos. Others have argued that the difference lies in the ease with which breeding can improve the dispositions of wild animals, a view supported by the failure to domesticate the kiang and onager. On the other hand, for thousands of years humans have managed to tame dangerous species like bears and cheetahs whose failed domestications had little to do with their aggressiveness.

    Number (6), while it does apply to most domesticated species, also has exceptions, most notably in the domestic cat and ferret, which are both descended from strictly solitary wild ancestors but which tolerate and even seek out social interaction in their domestic forms. Feral domestic cats, for example, naturally form colonies around concentrated food sources, and will even share prey and rear kittens communally, while wildcats remain solitary even in the presence of such food sources.[16] Zoologist Marston Bates devoted a chapter on domestication in his 1960 book The Forest and the Sea, in which he talks a great deal about how domestication alters a species. Dispersal mechanisms tend to disappear for the reason stated above, and additionally, because people provide transportation for them, domestic chickens and turkeys have a greatly reduced ability to fly. Similarly, domestic animals cease to have a definite mating season, so the need to be territorial when mating loses its value, and if some of the males in a herd are castrated, the problem is reduced even further. What he says suggests that the process of domestication can itself make a creature domesticable. Besides, the first steps towards agriculture may have involved hunters keeping young animals, who are always more impressionable than the adults, after killing their mothers.

    Another strong factor in deciding whether a species will be considered for domestication is quite simply the availability of more suitable (or, better yet, already domesticated) alternatives. For example, a community that had been introduced to domestication by neighboring peoples will generally find it much more practical, economical, and time saving to import already domesticated species than experiment with wild animals, even if they are of the same species. Generally speaking, the species of animals originally domesticated by early humans in the interconnected landmasses of Eurasia and Africa were far superior, both in working capacity and in food production, than the species found in the other continents, namely the Americas and Oceania.


    The earliest human attempts at plant domestication occurred in South-Western Asia. There is early evidence for conscious cultivation and trait selection of plants by pre-Neolithic groups in Syria: grains of rye with domestic traits have been recovered from Epi-Palaeolithic (c. 11,050 BCE) contexts at Abu Hureyra in Syria,[17] but this appears to be a localised phenomenon resulting from cultivation of stands of wild rye, rather than a definitive step towards domestication.[17]

    By 10,000 BCE the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) plant, used as a container before the advent of ceramic technology, appears to have been domesticated. The domesticated bottle gourd reached the Americas from Asia by 8000 BCE, most likely due to the migration of peoples from Asia to America.[18]

    Cereal crops were first domesticated around 9000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. The first domesticated crops were generally annuals with large seeds or fruits. These included pulses such as peas and grains such as wheat. The Middle East was especially suited to these species; the dry-summer climate was conducive to the evolution of large-seeded annual plants, and the variety of elevations led to a great variety of species. As domestication took place humans began to move from a hunter-gatherer society to a settled agricultural society. This change would eventually lead, some 4000 to 5000 years later, to the first city states and eventually the rise of civilization itself.

    Continued domestication was gradual, a process of trial and error that occurred intermittently. Over time perennials and small trees began to be domesticated including apples and olives. Some plants were not domesticated until recently such as the macadamia nut and the pecan.

    In other parts of the world very different species were domesticated. In the Americas squash, maize, beans, and perhaps manioc (also known as cassava) formed the core of the diet. In East Asia millet, rice, and soy were the most important crops. Some areas of the world such as Southern Africa, Australia, California and southern South America never saw local species domesticated.

    Domesticated plants often differ from their wild relatives in the way they spread to a more diverse environment and have a wider geographic range;[19] they may also have a different ecological preference; flower and fruit simultaneously; may lack breeding system; may lack defensive adaptations such as hairs, spines and thorns, protective coverings and sturdiness; may have better palatability and chemical composition, rendering them more likely to be eaten by animals; may be more susceptible to diseases and pests; may develop seedless parthenocarpic fruits; may have undergone selection for double flowers, which may involve conversion of stamens into petals; may have become sexually sterile and therefore only reproduce vegetatively.


    The boundaries between surviving wild populations and domestic clades can be vague. A classification system that can help solve this confusion surrounding animal populations might be set up on a spectrum of increasing domestication:

    • Wild: These populations experience their full life cycles without deliberate human intervention.
    • Raised in captivity/captured from wild (in zoos, botanical gardens, or for human gain): These populations are nurtured by humans but (except in zoos) not normally bred under human control. They remain as a group essentially indistinguishable in appearance or behaviour from their wild counterparts. Examples include Asian elephants, animals such as sloth bears and cobras used by showmen in India, and animals such as Asian black bears (farmed for their bile), and zoo animals, kept in captivity as examples of their species. (It should be noted that zoos and botanical gardens sometimes exhibit domesticated or feral animals and plants such as camels, mustangs, and some orchids)
    • Raised commercially (captive or semidomesticated): These populations are ranched or farmed in large numbers for food, commodities, or the pet trade, commonly breed in captivity, but as a group are not substantially altered in appearance or behavior from their wild cousins. Examples include the ostrich, various deer, alligator, cricket, honeybees, pearl oyster, raptors used in falconry and ball python. (These species are sometimes referred to as partially domesticated.)
    • Domesticated: These populations are bred and raised under human control for many generations and are substantially altered as a group in appearance or behaviour. Examples include sweet potato, garlic, pigs, ferrets, turkeys, canaries, domestic pigeons, budgerigars, goldfish, koi carp, silkworms, dogs, cats, sheep, cattle, chickens, llamas, guinea pigs, laboratory mice, horses, goats and (silver) foxes.[6]

    This classification system does not account for several complicating factors: mustangs. Hybrids can be wild, domesticated, or both: a liger is a hybrid of two wild animals, a mule is a hybrid of two domesticated animals, and a beefalo is a cross between a wild and a domestic animal.

    Tame or domesticated

    A herd of Pryor Mustangs

    A great difference exists between a tame animal and a domesticated animal. The term "domesticated" refers to an entire species or variety while the term "tame" can refer to just one individual within a species or variety. Humans have tamed many thousands of animals that have never been truly domesticated. These include the elephant, giraffes, and bears and lions. There is debate over whether some species have been domesticated or just tamed. Some state that the elephant has been domesticated, while others argue that the cat has never been domesticated. Dividing lines include whether a specimen born to wild parents would differ in appearance or behavior from one born to domesticated parents. For instance a dog is certainly domesticated because even a wolf (which genetically shares a common ancestor with all dogs) raised from a pup would be very different from a dog, in both appearance and behaviour.[20] Similar problems of definition arise when domesticated cats go feral.

    Many other languages use the same word for both concepts.

    Negative aspects

    Selection of animals for visible "desirable" traits may make them unfit in other, unseen, ways. The consequences for the captive and domesticated animals were reduction in size, piebald color, shorter faces with smaller and fewer teeth, diminished horns, weak muscle ridges, and less genetic variability. Poor joint definition, late fusion of the limb bone epiphyses with the diaphyses, hair changes, greater fat accumulation, smaller brains, simplified behavior patterns, extended immaturity, and more pathology are a few of the defects of domestic animals. All of these changes have been documented in direct observations of the rat in the 19th century, by archaeological evidence, and confirmed by animal breeders in the 20th century.[21] A 2014 commentary published in Genetics proposed that many of these features may arise due to mild neural crest deficits that also cause tameness; hence, selectively breeding tame animals also selects for these negative traits.[22]

    One side effect of domestication has been zoonotic diseases. For example, cattle have given humanity various viral poxes, measles, and tuberculosis; pigs and ducks have given influenza; and horses have given the rhinoviruses. Humans share over sixty diseases with dogs . Many parasites also have their origins in domestic animals.[2] The advent of domestication resulted in denser human populations which provided ripe conditions for pathogens to reproduce, mutate, spread, and eventually find a new host in humans.

    Other negative aspects of domestication have been explored. For example, Paul Shepherd writes "Man substitutes controlled breeding for natural selection; animals are selected for special traits like milk production of passivity, at the expense of overall fitness and naturewide relationships...Though domestication broadens the diversity of forms – that is, increases visible polymorphism – it undermines the crisp demarcations that separate wild species and cripples our recognition of the species as a group. Knowing only domestic animals dulls our understanding of the way in which unity and discontinuity occur as patterns in nature, and substitutes an attention to individuals and breeds. The wide variety of size, color, shape, and form of domestic horses, for example, blurs the distinction among different species of Equus that once were constant and meaningful."[23]

    Going further, some anarcho-primitivist authors describe domestication as the process by which previously nomadic human populations shifted towards a sedentary or settled existence through agriculture and animal husbandry. They claim that this kind of domestication demands a totalitarian relationship with both the land and the plants and animals being domesticated. They say that whereas, in a state of wildness, all life shares and competes for resources, domestication destroys this balance. Domesticated landscape (e.g. pastoral lands/agricultural fields and, to a lesser degree, horticulture and gardening) ends the open sharing of resources; where "this was everyone's," it is now "mine." Anarcho-primitivists state that this notion of ownership laid the foundation for social hierarchy as property and power emerged. It also involved the destruction, enslavement, or assimilation of other groups of early people who did not make such a transition.[24]

    To primitivists, domestication enslaves both the domesticated species as well as the domesticators. Advances in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology allows humans to quantify and objectify themselves, until they too become commodities.[25]

    Dates and places

    Early domestication: cow being milked in ancient Egypt.

    Since the process of domestication inherently takes many generations over a long period of time, and the spread of breed and husbandry techniques is also slow, it is not meaningful to give a single "date of domestication". However, it is believed that the first attempt at domestication of both animals and plants were made in the Old World by peoples of the Mesolithic Period. The tribes that took part in hunting and gathering wild edible plants, started to make attempts to domesticate dogs, goats, and possibly sheep, which was as early as 9000 BC. However, it was not until the Neolithic Period that primitive agriculture appeared as a form of social activity, and domestication was well under way. The great majority of domesticated animals and plants that still serve humans were selected and developed during the Neolithic Period, a few other examples appeared later. The rabbit for example, was not domesticated until the Middle Ages, while the sugar beet came under cultivation as a sugar-yielding agricultural plant in the 19th century. As recently as the 20th century, mint became an object of agricultural production, and animal breeding programs to produce high-quality fur were started in the same time period.[26]

    The methods available to estimate domestication dates introduce further uncertainty, especially when domestication has occurred in the distant past. So the dates given here should be treated with caution; in some cases evidence is scanty and future discoveries may alter the dating significantly.

    Dates and places of domestication are mainly estimated by archaeological methods, more precisely archaeozoology. These methods consist of excavating or studying the results of excavation in human prehistorical occupation sites. Animal remains are dated with archaeological methods, the species they belong to is determined, the age at death is also estimated, and if possible the form they had, that is to say a possible domestic form. Various other clues are taken advantage of, such as slaughter or cutting marks. The aim is to determine if they are game or raised animal, and more globally the nature of their relationship with humans. For example, the skeleton of a cat found buried close to humans is a clue that it may have been a pet cat. The age structure of animal remains can also be a clue of husbandry, in which animals were killed at the optimal age.

    New technologies and especially mitochondrial DNA, which are simple DNA found in the mitochondria that determine its function in the cell provide an alternative angle of investigation, and make it possible to reestimate the dates of domestication based on research into the genealogical tree of modern domestic animals.

    It is admitted for several species that domestication occurred in several places distinctly. For example, research on mitochondrial DNA of the modern cattle Bos taurus supports the archaeological assertions of separate domestication events in Asia and Africa. This research also shows that Bos taurus and Bos indicus haplotypes are all descendants of the extinct wild ox Bos primigenius.[27][28] However, this does not rule out later crossing inside a species; therefore it appears useless to look for a separate wild ancestor for each domestic breed.

    The dog was the first domesticated animal dating 18,000-32,000 years ago, which supports the hypothesis that dog domestication preceded the emergence of agriculture and occurred in the context of European hunter-gatherer cultures.[29] This preceded the domestication of other species by several millennia. In the Neolithic a number of important species such as goats, sheep, pigs and cattle were domesticated, as part of the spread of farming which characterises this period. The goat, sheep and pig in particular were domesticated independently in the Levant and Asia.

    There is early evidence of beekeeping, in the form of rock paintings, dating to 13,000 BC.

    Recent archaeological evidence from Cyprus indicates domestication of a type of cat by perhaps 9500 BC.[30][31][32]

    The earliest secure evidence of horse domestication, bit wear on horse molars at Dereivka in Ukraine, dates to around 4000 BC. The unequivocal date of domestication and use as a means of transport is at the Sintashta chariot burials in the southern Urals, c. 2000 BC. Local equivalents and smaller species were domesticated from the 26th century BC.

    The availability of both domesticated vegetable and animal species increased suddenly following the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the contact between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. This is part of what is referred to as the Columbian Exchange.

    Approximate dates and locations of original domestication

    Species Date Location
    Dog (Canis lupus familiaris) prior to 33000 BCE[29][33][34] Europe
    Sheep (Ovis orientalis aries) between 11000 BCE and 9000 BCE[35][36] Southwest Asia
    Pig (Sus scrofa domestica) 9000 BCE[37][38] Near East, China, Germany
    Goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) 8000 BCE[39] Near East
    Cattle (Bos primigenius taurus) 8000 BCE[40] India, Middle East, and North Africa
    Cat (Felis catus) 7500 BCE[30][31][32][41] Cyprus and Near East
    Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) 6000 BCE[42] India and Southeast Asia
    Guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) 5000 BCE[43] Peru
    Donkey (Equus africanus asinus) 5000 BCE[44][45] Egypt
    Domesticated duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus) 4000 BCE China
    Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) 4000 BCE India, China
    Horse (Equus ferus caballus) 4000 BCE[46] Eurasian Steppes
    Dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) 4000 BCE Arabia
    Llama (Lama glama) 6000 BCE Peru
    Silkworm (Bombyx mori) 3000 BCE China
    Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) 3000 BCE[47] Russia
    Rock pigeon (Columba livia) 3000 BCE Mediterranean Basin
    Goose (Anser anser domesticus) 3000 BCE[48] Egypt
    Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) 2500 BCE Central Asia, Afghanistan
    Yak (Bos grunniens) 2500 BCE Tibet
    Banteng (Bos javanicus) Unknown Southeast Asia
    Gayal (Bos gaurus frontalis) Unknown Southeast Asia
    Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) 1500 BCE Peru
    Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) 1500 BCE Europe
    Muscovy duck (Cairina momelanotus) Unknown South America
    Guineafowl Unknown Africa
    Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) Unknown East Asia
    Domesticated turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 500 BCE Mexico
    Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) Unknown China
    European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) CE 600 Europe

    Additional domestications:

    Species Date Location
    Zebu (Bos primigenius indicus) 8000 BCE India
    Honey bee 4000 BCE Multiple places
    Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) (endangered) 2000 BCE Indus Valley civilization
    Fallow deer (Dama dama) 1000 BCE Mediterranean Basin
    Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) 500 BCE India
    Barbary dove (Streptopelia risoria) 500 BCE North Africa
    Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) 1100–1900 Japan
    Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) Unknown China
    Mute swan (Cygnus olor) 1000–1500 Europe
    Canary (Serinus canaria domestica) 1600 Canary Islands, Europe

    Modern instances

    Species Date Location
    Fancy rat (Rattus norvegicus) 1800s UK
    Fox (Vulpes vulpes) 1800s Europe
    European mink (Mustela lutreola) 1800s Europe
    Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) 1850s Australia
    Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) 1870s Australia
    Zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) 1900s Australia
    Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) 1930s United States
    Silver fox 1950s Soviet Union
    Muskox (Ovibos moschatus) 1960s United States
    Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus guttatus) 1960s United States
    Ball python (Python regius) 1960s Africa
    Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) 1960s Madagascar
    Red deer (Cervus elaphus) 1970s New Zealand
    Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) 1980s United States
    Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) 1980s Australia
    Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) 1980s United States
    Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) 1990s United States

    Researchers at the Max Planck institute in Germany are attempting to find a genetic basis for the processes of taming and domestication. They have obtained two strains of grey rats which were bred by Dmitry Konstantinovich Belyaev at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia, research which was later continued by Irina Plyusnina. One strain had been selected for aggressiveness while the other had been selected for tameness, mimicking the process by which neolithic farmers are thought to have first domesticated animals. A similar experiment studying silver foxes has been ongoing at the same institute since 1959.[49] Richard Wrangham of Harvard suggests that similar genes could be involved in human self-domestication.[49]

    Former instances

    Some species are said to have been domesticated, but are not any more, either because they have totally disappeared, or since their domestic form no longer exists. Examples include the jaguarundi,[50] the kakapo, the ring-tailed cat, caracal and Bos aegyptiacus.

    Hybrid domestic animals

    Genetic pollution

    Animals of domestic origin and feral ones sometimes can produce fertile hybrids with native, wild animals which leads to genetic pollution in the naturally evolved wild gene pools, many times threatening rare species with extinction. Cases include the mallard duck, wildcat, wild boar, the rock dove or pigeon, the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) (ancestor of all chickens), carp, and more recently salmon. Another example is the dingo, itself an early feral dog, which hybridizes with dogs of European origin. On the other hand, genetic pollution seems not to be noticed for rabbits. There is much debate over the degree to which feral hybridization compromises the purity of a wild species. In the case of the mallard, for example, some claim there are no populations which are completely free of any domestic ancestor.

    Notes and references

    1. ^
    2. ^ a b c d
    3. ^ "Domestication." Based on the Random House Dictionary (Random House, Inc. 2013).
    4. ^
    5. ^ Zohary, D. & Hopf, M. (2000). Domestication of Plants in the Old World Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
    6. ^ a b
    7. ^ Clutton-Brock, J. (1981) Domesticated Animals from Early Times. Austin: Univ. Texas Press.
    8. ^ Ning L., Jinge G. and Aireti. 1997. "Yak in Xinjiang", in Miller D.G., Craig S.R. and Rana G.M. (eds), Proceedings of a workshop on conservation and management of yak genetic diversity held at ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal, October 29–31, 1996. ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), Kathmandu, Nepal. pp. 115–122.
    9. ^ Cronin, M.A.; Renecker, L; Pierson, B.J. and Patton, J.C.; "Genetic variation in domestic reindeer and wild caribou in Alaska"; Animal Genetics, volume 26, Issue 6 (December 1995), pp. 427–434
    10. ^ Diamond, Jared; Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies; p. 147. ISBN 0-393-31755-2
    11. ^ doi:10.1086/659964
    12. ^
    13. ^ McBride, G., Parer, I.P. and Foenander, F., (1969). The social organization and behaviour of the feral domestic fowl. Animal Behaviour Monographs, 2:125–181
    14. ^ Stolba, A. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., (1989). The behaviour of pigs in a semi-natural environment. Animal Production, 48: 419-425
    15. ^
    16. ^
    17. ^ a b
    18. ^
    19. ^
    20. ^
    21. ^
    22. ^
    23. ^
    24. ^
    25. ^
    26. ^ [1] Archived June 26, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
    27. ^
    28. ^
    29. ^ a b O. Thalmann, B. Shapiro, P. Cui, V. J. Schuenemann, S. K. Sawyer, D. L. Greenfield, M. B. Germonpré, M. V. Sablin, F. López-Giráldez, X. Domingo-Roura, H. Napierala, H-P. Uerpmann, D. M. Loponte, A. A. Acosta, L. Giemsch, R. W. Schmitz, B. Worthington, J. E. Buikstra, A. Druzhkova, A. S. Graphodatsky, N. D. Ovodov, N. Wahlberg, A. H. Freedman, R. M. Schweizer, K.-P. Koepfli, J. A. Leonard, M. Meyer, J. Krause, S. Pääbo, R. E. Green, R. K. Wayne - Complete Mitochondrial Genomes of Ancient Canids Suggest a European Origin of Domestic Dogs - Science 15 November 2013: Vol. 342 no. 6160 pp. 871-874 DOI: 10.1126/science.1243650 Full Text available here
    30. ^ a b
    31. ^ a b
    32. ^ a b
    33. ^ Druzhkova AS, Thalmann O, Trifonov VA, Leonard JA, Vorobieva NV, et al. (2013) Ancient DNA Analysis Affirms the Canid from Altai as a Primitive Dog. PLoS ONE 8(3): e57754. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057754
    34. ^ MSNBCE : World's first dog lived 31,700 years ago, ate big
    35. ^
    36. ^
    37. ^
    38. ^
    39. ^ Melinda A. Zeder, Goat busters track domestication (Physiologic changes and evolution of goats into a domesticated animal), April 2000, (English) (summarizing research done in Ganj Dareh).
    40. ^ Source : Laboratoire de Préhistoire et Protohistoire de l'Ouest de la France [2], (French). Archived October 5, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
    41. ^ [3], domestication of the cat on Cyprus, National Geographic.
    42. ^
    43. ^ in South America, a summary of the current state of knowledge (Cavia porcellus) History of the Guinea Pig
    44. ^
    45. ^ Roger Blench, The history and spread of donkeys in Africa PDF (235 KB) (English).
    46. ^ The Domestication of the Horse; see also Domestication of the horse Archived August 11, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
    47. ^ Domestication of Reindeer
    48. ^ Geese: the underestimated species
    49. ^ a b
    50. ^ .Sometimes it is because these animals don't breed well in captivity


    Further reading

    • Halcrow, S. E., Harris, N. J., Tayles, N., Ikehara-Quebral, R. and Pietrusewsky, M. (2013), From the mouths of babes: Dental caries in infants and children and the intensification of agriculture in mainland Southeast Asia. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 150: 409–420. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22215
    • Hayden, B. (2003). Were luxury foods the first domesticates? Ethnoarchaeological perspectives from Southeast Asia. World Archaeology, 34(3), 458-469.

    See also

    External links

    • Crop Wild Relative Inventory and Gap Analysis: reliable information source on where and what to conserve ex-situ, for crop genepools of global importance
    • Discussion of animal domestication
    • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (ISBN 0-393-03891-2)
    • News story about an early domesticated cat find
    • Belyaev experiment with the domestic fox
    • Use of Domestic Animals in Zoo Education
    • The Initial Domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 Years Ago
    • Cattle domestication diagram
    • Major topic "domestication": free full-text articles (more than 100 plus reviews) in National Library of Medicine
    • Why don't we ride zebras? an online children's film about animal domestication
    • Isidro A. T. Savillo and Villaluz, Elizabeth A. 2013 this introduces a proposed Domesticity Scale for Wild Birds
Hereford cattle, domesticated for beef production.

According to evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond, animal species must meet six criteria in order to be considered for domestication:[12]

Archaeozoology has identified 3 classes of animal domesticates: (1) commensals, adapted to a human niche (e.g., dogs, cats, guinea pigs); (2) prey animals sought for food (e.g., cows, sheep, pig, goats); and (3) targeted animals for draft and nonfood resources (e.g., horse, camel, donkey).[11]


Selective breeding may best explain how continuing processes of domestication often work. Evidence of the power of selective breeding comes from the Farm-Fox Experiment by the Russian scientist, Dmitri K. Belyaev, in the 1950s. His team bred the domesticated silver fox (Vulpes vulpes) and selected the individuals that showed the least fear of humans. Then Belyaev's team selected only those that showed the most positive response to humans. He ended up with a population of grey foxes whose behavior and appearance was significantly changed. They no longer showed any fear of humans and often wagged their tails and licked their human caretakers to show affection. These foxes had floppy ears, smaller skulls, rolled tails and other traits commonly found in dogs.[6] Despite the success of this experiment, it appears that selective breeding cannot always achieve domestication. Attempts to domesticate many kinds of wild animals have been unsuccessful. Although the four species of zebra can interbreed with the horse and the donkey, attempts at domestication have failed.[7] Factors such as temperament, social structure and ability to breed in captivity play a role in determining whether a species can be successfully domesticated.[2] In human history to date, only a few species of large animal have been domesticated. In approximate order of their earliest domestication these are: dog, sheep, goat, pig, ox, yak,[8] reindeer,[9] water buffalo, horse, donkey, llama, alpaca, Bactrian camel and Arabian camel.[10]

The domestication of wheat provides an example. Wild wheat falls to the ground to reseed itself when ripe, but domesticated wheat stays on the stem for easier harvesting. There is evidence that this change was possible because of a random mutation that happened in the wild populations at the beginning of wheat's cultivation. Wheat with this mutation was harvested more frequently and became the seed for the next crop. Therefore, without realizing, early farmers selected for this mutation, which may otherwise have died out. The result is domesticated wheat, which relies on farmers for its own reproduction and dissemination.[5]

Charles Darwin was the first to describe the connection between domestication, selection and evolution.[4] Darwin described how the process of domestication can involve both unconscious and methodical elements. Routine human interactions with animals and plants create selection pressures that cause adaptation to human presence, use or cultivation. Deliberate selective breeding has also been used to create desired changes, often after initial domestication. These two forces, unconscious natural selection and methodical selective breeding, may have both played roles in the processes of domestication throughout history.[2] Both have been described from human perspective as processes of artificial selection.



  • Background 1
    • Animals 1.1
    • Plants 1.2
  • Degrees 2
  • Tame or domesticated 3
  • Negative aspects 4
  • Dates and places 5
    • Approximate dates and locations of original domestication 5.1
    • Modern instances 5.2
    • Former instances 5.3
    • Hybrid domestic animals 5.4
  • Genetic pollution 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • Further reading 9
  • See also 10
  • External links 11

Domestication differs from aesthetic enjoyment in and around the home are usually called house plants or ornamentals, while those domesticated for large-scale food production are generally called crops. A distinction can be made between those domesticated plants that have been deliberately altered or selected for special desirable characteristics (see cultigen) and those plants that are used for human benefit, but are essentially no different from the wild populations of the species. Animals domesticated for home companionship are usually called pets, while those domesticated for food or work are called livestock or farm animals.


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