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[Share] The genes that turn wild animals into pets. A 60-year fox study could explain how dogs got domesticated.

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Post time: 8-8-2018 08:23:06 Posted From Mobile Phone
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Russian domesticated foxes.
Kingston Photography for the JAB Canid Education and Conservation Center
▼ A wise man once asked, what does the fox say? A thing or two about how canines acquiesce to domestication, apparently. Thanks to the efforts of an ongoing breeding experiment started during the days of the Soviet Union, researchers have shed new light on genes that govern how foxes and other canine species turn from aggressive dogs on the hunt, into cute, cuddly, and friendly puppers that don’t much mind a more sedentary lifestyle.
The research, published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution, all started in the year 1959, when a Russian scientist named Dmitri Belyaev decided to launch an ambitious project to learn how dogs descended from wolves and took on traits that turned them tame. Belyaev suspected dogs’ behavior and attitudes were genetically heritable. So he decided to start breeding foxes—lots of them—to see if he might replicate the wolf-to-pup transition.
Belyaev took a group of silver foxes (red foxes with silver fur) and started to breed the friendliest, most docile individuals with one-another. In this case, docile essentially refers to individuals that didn’t attack humans who stuck their fingers in the cages. The most docile critters of each subsequent generation were bred with one-another, and eventually their descendents started to actively seek out humans and exhibit signs of affection. They even started sporting some of the signature biological features of domesticated dogs, like curly tails and floppy ears. ( Yes, some people keep them  as pets.)
At the same time, Belyaev and his team also bred another line of silver foxes that were selected for aggressive and volatile behavior, attacking and growling at any humans who approached them. More than 40 generations later, the project has yielded two distinct lines of tame and aggressive foxes.
“The red fox domestication experiment offers an excellent opportunity to replay the domestication history of dogs and identify domestication genes, because domestication itself was done precisely by the selection on the behaviors,” says Guojie Zhang, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and a coauthor of the new study. Thus, in 2010, she and her colleagues decided to sequence the red fox genome in an effort to pinpoint what types of genes are most central to domestication. It’s these two Russian fox cohorts, plus a third that represent a more neutral set of behavior, that make up the focus of the new study.
Zhang and her team produced a reference genomefor the red fox and sequenced the genomes for 10 tame foxes, 10 aggressive foxes, and 10 conventional foxes. They identified 103 genetic regions that varied most widely between the three populations. Most of these genes, she says, are related to either behavior or immune functions. About 45 of these regions overlapped with those known to modulate domestication in dogs, while another 30 were already linked to tameness or aggressiveness in red foxes. (▪ ▪ ▪)

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Post time: 9-8-2018 14:46:06
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wow thats incredible

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Post time: 10-8-2018 02:29:20
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this is interesting,

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Post time: 10-8-2018 18:32:41
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This falls in line with Neo Lamarkism. Lamarc was first behavioral scientist to go on to propound the theory of inheritance of acquired characters. Which means a blacksmith who usually has a pair of strong muscular hands is most likely to have sons whose hands will also be muscular & strong. Darwin later repudiated this theory with survival of fittest. Like once there were giraffes with both long neck and short neck. They both fed on lower level vegetation. When same got exhausted, the longer neck giraffes survived bcoz they could feed on higher level foliage but the short necked ones could not and petered out. Neolamarcism is a mix of both these theories. This article regardind domestication of foxes proves neolamarcism at genetic level. Kudos.

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Post time: 13-8-2018 01:02:11
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Image chanakyakripa Image 10-8-2018 06:32 PM
This falls in line with Neo Lamarkism. Lamarc was first behavioral scientist to go on to propound th ...

From what I have read, Darwin knew Lamarck personally and at the time that he was about to write 'Origin of Species' in 1859, he had spoken with the former and the latter gave his wholehearted support. This was key to Darwin's theories for acceptance as Lamarck was known nationwide in the UK, while Darwin was not.  

Darwin expounded his theories to the older man in detail and although Lamarck had not attained what he wanted fully, he was still someone scientists and biologists knew. Although Lamarck was not mentioned by Darwin in the book, the former had spoken of the aspiring author to his contemporaries, friends and acquaintances who looked forward to reading the book based on the glowing references of Lamarck.

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