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Brian Hare tells us the story of Dmitri Belyaev, a geneticist and clandestine Darwinian who lived in Stalinist Russia and studied the domestication of the silver fox. Through generations of selectively breeding a captive population, Belyaev noticed not only increased docility, but also unexpected physical changes. Why did these gentler foxes necessarily look different than their wild ancestors? Tecumseh Fitch has a hypothesis, something about trailblazing cells and embryonic development. And Richard Wrangham takes it a step further, suggesting us humans may have domesticated ourselves.

Comments [1]

Ronny from Utah

I'm curious if the domesticated foxes had health problems related to their stunted growth. The changes make them unsuited to the wild of course, but they make up for that by living with humans. I'm wondering if they had more heath problems than their wild counterparts.

Oct. 30 2015 11:46 PM

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