Domestication Publications

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Domestication is a long-term process of adapting populations of animals (or plants) to a captive environment. The process is both cultural, where animals become incorporated into the human social structure, and biological, involving genetic changes over many generations, which affect behavior, physiology, and morphology. Below are some publications on domestication, in general, and on the domestic dog, in particular:


  • An Experiment on Fox Domestication & Debatable Issues of Evolution of the Dog
    This article provides a history of the Russian Silver Fox Domestication Project at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (ICG) in Novosibirsk, Russia. Dr. Dmitriy Belyaev began the experiment in 1959 to determine if selection for tameness would yield a strain of domesticated fox. The article was published in the scientific journal Russian Journal of Genetics.

  • Animal Evolution During Domestication: The Domesticated Fox as a Model
    This review article examines the evolution of domestic animals by exploring the earliest steps of domestication of the first domesticated species, the dog, and compares it to the Russian Silver Fox Domestication Project. It was published in the scientific journal Bioassays.

  • Domestication
    This excerpt from the NLA presentation to Florida Fish & Wildlife discusses the effects of domestication on behavior, physiology, and morphology, and introduces a possible mechanism of domestication.

  • The “Domestication Syndrome” in Mammals: A Unified Explanation Based on Neural Crest Cell Behavior and Genetics
    Charles Darwin discovered that domesticated mammals possess a distinctive and unusual suite of heritable traits not seen in their wild progenitors. The origin of Darwin’s “domestication syndrome” has remained a conundrum for more than 140 years. This article proposes a unified explanation for the domestication syndrome that results predominantly from mild neural crest cell deficits during embryonic development and that most of the modified traits, both morphological and physiological, can be explained as direct or indirect consequence.

  • Early Canid Domestication: The Farm-Fox Experiment
    This is an earlier article discussing the domestication of the dog using the Russian Silver Fox Domestication Project as an example. It was published in the scientific journal American Scientist.

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