Tuesday, September 18, 2018


In 1959 Russian geneticist Dmitri Belyaev began an experiment that attempted to domesticate foxes.

The experiment was simple. The breeding pairs from each generation were selected for one trait only: friendliness toward humans.

This has gone on for almost 60 years. Belyaev passed away in 1985, but colleagues continued his work.

Remarkably, the results have been dramatic. The foxes aren't tame to the degree of dogs--they're still foxes--but they're tame foxes. It's incredible that behavior could change so much in what is seemingly a short period of time.

There's video and more information here: These domesticated foxes were 60 years in the making.

It gets even more interesting, though. Anna Kukekova, a behavioral geneticist at the University of Illinois in Urbana, started looking for a genetic basis for the foxes' behavior.

After 16 years of research, she discovered a gene--SorCS1--which consistently explained the behavior of individual foxes.

Mind-blowing stuff, and here's the other article (with video, and the difference between the aggressive and friendly foxes is staggering): These docile foxes may hold some of the genetic keys to domestication.

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