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    Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

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      Non-dune discussion

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    Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Redstar » 01 Oct 2009 21:32

    http://cbsu.tc.cornell.edu/ccgr/behaviour/Index.htm

    "The silver fox, a color variation of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), has been domesticated in a controlled experiment at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia (Trut, 1999, 2001). Starting in 1959, and selected solely on behavioral criteria for more than 40 generations, a strain of foxes with behavior extremely similar to domestic dogs was produced. Tame foxes exhibit highly social behavior with both other members of their own species and humans in a playful, friendly manner. In contrast, foxes from an unselected population, or from a strain bred for aggressive behavior, avoid social interactions with humans. Although the heritability of these behavioral trait differences is well established, the molecular biological basis has not yet been determined. The project's long term goal is to identify genes influencing fox tame and wild type behavioral phenotypes and to provide new insight on the mechanisms underlying social behavior in canids and other species, and on the broader phenomenon of domestication as a whole. Identification of regions implicated in the development of friendly behavior in the fox genome will also provide an opportunity to define new candidate genes for autistic and other human neurological disorders that are accompanied by the impaired development of social reciprocity."
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Omphalos » 02 Oct 2009 01:19

    Heard this on NPR about two weeks ago. Great story.
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SadisticCynic » 02 Oct 2009 13:29

    Wasn't this in the Science of Dune book as well?
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SandChigger » 02 Oct 2009 16:10

    (I don't recall that but then I didn't read every article all the way through. ;) )
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Redstar » 03 Oct 2009 05:39

    SadisticCynic wrote:Wasn't this in the Science of Dune book as well?

    All the more reason for me to check it out... I assume (if it is in) it would cover the D-Wolves? One of my favorite aspects of GEoD... Almost nothing later compared to the run.

    It's an interesting topic. As far as I know most animals that are currently domesticated underwent the process far before civilization or during early civilization... Meaning we simply haven't tried it on anything but rats since then. Clearly it's something worth looking into, since I imagine animal domestication would be a corollary to human evolution (both physical and societal). Apparently, it's also useful for current genetics in terms of locating neurological disorders such as autism... Whether this means it'll be outbred or not remains to be seen, but surely someone will make the connection and raise a fit over it.

    Another aspect I find strange is that, according to the Wikipedia domestication article, the bred foxes physically changed: "He ended up with a population of grey-coloured 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. More importantly, these foxes had floppy ears, smaller skulls, rolled tails and other traits commonly found in dogs."
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SandChigger » 03 Oct 2009 07:06

    (If you haven't looked at The Science of Dune book yet, don't get your hopes up. I found it quite disappointing.)

    How closely related are foxes to wolves/dogs?

    fox a carnivorous mammal of the dog family with a pointed muzzle and bushy tail, proverbial for its cunning. • Vulpes and three other genera, family Canidae: several species, including the red fox and the arctic fox.

    wolf a wild carnivorous mammal that is the largest member of the dog family, living and hunting in packs. It is native to both Eurasia and North America, but has been widely exterminated. • Canis lupus, family Canidae; it is the chief ancestor of the domestic dog.

    dog a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice. It is widely kept as a pet or for work or field sports. • Canis familiaris, family Canidae (the dog family); probably domesticated from the wolf in the Mesolithic period. The dog family also includes the wolves, coyotes, jackals, and foxes.

    Is it really so odd then that they acquire dog-like characteristics upon domestication?
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Redstar » 03 Oct 2009 07:20

    I don't find it odd that they become physically dog-like, I find it odd that traits in temperament are somehow related to physical appearance.

    Arguably a domesticated animal has less traits it would use in hunting/defense because they rely on the domesticator in symbiosis so there's less need to specialize, but how would DNA or whatever know that? Are hot-headed and violent people more typically physically stronger and larger, with sharper teeth, or what?
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Freakzilla » 03 Oct 2009 07:40

    Redstar wrote:I don't find it odd that they become physically dog-like, I find it odd that traits in temperament are somehow related to physical appearance.


    Like beautiful women with no personality? :wink:
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby DuneFishUK » 03 Oct 2009 08:00

    Redstar wrote:Are hot-headed and violent people more typically physically stronger and larger, with sharper teeth, or what?

    The hot-headed violent people I know are all short.... one of them does bite though.
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SadisticCynic » 03 Oct 2009 08:11

    Redstar wrote:
    SadisticCynic wrote:Wasn't this in the Science of Dune book as well?

    All the more reason for me to check it out... I assume (if it is in) it would cover the D-Wolves? One of my favorite aspects of GEoD... Almost nothing later compared to the run.

    It's an interesting topic. As far as I know most animals that are currently domesticated underwent the process far before civilization or during early civilization... Meaning we simply haven't tried it on anything but rats since then. Clearly it's something worth looking into, since I imagine animal domestication would be a corollary to human evolution (both physical and societal). Apparently, it's also useful for current genetics in terms of locating neurological disorders such as autism... Whether this means it'll be outbred or not remains to be seen, but surely someone will make the connection and raise a fit over it.

    Another aspect I find strange is that, according to the Wikipedia domestication article, the bred foxes physically changed: "He ended up with a population of grey-coloured 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. More importantly, these foxes had floppy ears, smaller skulls, rolled tails and other traits commonly found in dogs."

    Don't get too excited, the chapter is called from From Silver Fox to Kwisatz Haderach. I haven't read it in a long time so I don't really remember the content, I just found it very interesting that animals could be domesticated like that.
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SandChigger » 03 Oct 2009 23:24

    Redstar wrote:I don't find it odd that they become physically dog-like, I find it odd that traits in temperament are somehow related to physical appearance.

    In this one family of animals. Isn't it a bit premature to assume that it always holds true for other species? And isn't it a real leap assuming it will hold true for humans?

    Arguably a domesticated animal has less traits it would use in hunting/defense because they rely on the domesticator in symbiosis so there's less need to specialize, but how would DNA or whatever know that? Are hot-headed and violent people more typically physically stronger and larger, with sharper teeth, or what?

    DNA doesn't "know" shit. The animal's physical body and some of its behavior are expressions of the information in its DNA, but the DNA does not change in response to the environment. (Unless the environment contains high levels of chemical mutagens or radioactivity, of course.) The experimenters selected the animals that exhibited the traits they wanted to strengthen. Selected the DNA that created animals which displayed the desired behavioral responses in the given environment, in other words. Again, isn't speculation as to possible application in humans a bit premature?

    (How much of the "beautiful women with no personality" stereotype is a result of cultural=environmental effects? ;) )
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Omphalos » 04 Oct 2009 03:13

    SandChigger wrote:In this one family of animals. Isn't it a bit premature to assume that it always holds true for other species? And isn't it a real leap assuming it will hold true for humans?


    Go onto the NPR website and listen to the Radio Lab broadcast for last weekend, or maybe the one before. They interviewed several geneticists about this exact issue, and there were some surprising things said in that story. IIRC the main topic was whether humans could ever evolve to a point where we were beyond war. In the experiment on the foxes, they became flop-eared, cute and excited to see humans as a certain chemical in their brains decreased over successive generations that were selected for dog-like behavior. Oh, and listen to Radio Lab with earphones on.

    I just looked quickly and couldn't find it, but Im sure its out there.

    EDIT: I think that this is it:

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2009/10/02

    Its 1:15 and I going to bed, but this looks like it. Try the third segment on the bottom.

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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SandChigger » 04 Oct 2009 03:28

    Well, as I've pointed out before the question of future human evolution is one in which I have no personal stake, so it's all academic, but I get the feeling that a race of cute floppy-ears who don't war (aren't they called Eloi?) would be perfectly adapted to sitting around on this rock until the sky falls on it again or Sol swells to swallow it. ;)


    (I'll look for the NPR stuff tomorrow in the office. :) )
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Freakzilla » 04 Oct 2009 09:44

    I think the only thing we are evolving towards is being disease ridden, unless they start coming up with genetic cures.
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby Redstar » 06 Oct 2009 23:34

    Well that show was annoying, but it was helpful. Apparently there is a correlation (though how much so in every species is suspect). The whole thing makes me want to keep the aggressive, strong men off the front-lines so we won't turn into Eloi. We could easily do for a lesbian army of berserker women.
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    Re: Domesticating foxes (is awesome)

    Postby SandChigger » 07 Oct 2009 00:03

    Oooh, yes please! :D

    And publicize where they do their ... practice maneuvers. :twisted:

    (Or would they be stroppy and call them "femeuvers" or "womeuvers"? Oh, do let them be stroppy! :lol: )
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