Animal Domestication

Domestication, Animal


the taming and adaptation of wild animals to meet the economic needs of man.

Domestication, whose origin dates to about 10,000–15,000 years ago, constituted an important stage in the development of society’s productive forces, since it led to the rise of livestock breeding. It is difficult to date precisely its beginnings because the changes that the animals had undergone in the early stages of domestication had not affected the skeletal structure, and consequently, the animal bones found in the excavations of Upper Paleolithic settlements are not distinguishable from the bones of wild animals. Thus, the initial stages of domestication can be evaluated chiefly from the data obtained in modern fur farming and elk and maral breeding, as well as from experiments, which in the USSR are conducted mainly at the Askaniia-Nova Preserve.

In the process of domestication, animals lived under conditions created for them by man (construction of pens, provision of pasturage and feed supplements), which differed markedly from those of their wild ancestors. The more effort man expended on obtaining animals with the desired characteristics, the greater the changes the animals underwent. Domestication was made possible through artificial selection and limited natural selection and was accompanied by morphological and physiological changes in the animals.

Most domestic animals are characterized by sharp morphological and physiological differentiation (sometimes on the specific or generic level) with preservation of complete hereditary compatibility, by simplification of behavioral responses, by a reduction of brain size, by a decline in the reactivity of the nervous system, and by hyperfunction of the sexual glands and hypofunction of the adrenal glands. Other characteristic features are underdevelopment of certain organs and tissues that have lost their initial purpose (changes in integumentary tissues, reduction of ear muscles), increased heterozygosity, high phenotypic stability under changing environmental conditions, changes in the phenotypic expression of mutations under the effect of an altered gene pool (for example, the platinum fox), and a general increase in variability. When the changes brought about by domestication are extensive, especially if there is great specialization for certain types of productivity, reversion to a wild state is impossible.

Ancient frescoes, particularly Egyptian ones, show that some animals not now domesticated (mainly various species of antelopes) had been domesticated at one time. Certain modern domestic animals, for example, donkeys and camels, are threatened with a sharp reduction in their numbers (owing to the reduced need for them as draft animals) if no new, economically justified use is found for them.


References in periodicals archive ?
Putting these ideas together, we come to a view of animal domestication which sees it as a form of behavioural co-evolution, by which mutualistic and commensal relationships developed between people and other species, either because the interaction was to the benefit of both species, or because it was beneficial to one and neutral (or at least not strongly detrimental) to the other.
The Paleo diet is a nutrition program based on the principle that it is better for one's body to eat foods in a similar manner to the diets that humans ate in prehistory, prior to large-scale agriculture and animal domestication.
Yak's wool has been used by Tibetans for winter clothing since the dawn of animal domestication in the region and has been sourced sustainably for thousands of years by hand combing the animal each spring.
The topics include behavioral genetics and animal domestication, the reproductive and maternal behavior of livestock, improving the adaptability of animals by selection, and genetics and animal welfare.
According to Smithsonian Institute researcher Mark Moffett, ant colonies have developed behaviors to deal with "issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery.
Covering topics ranging from digestion to etiquette in different cultures, from animal domestication to food preservation and the variety of foods eaten around the world, this book gives readers a great idea about how important food really is.
I hold a post graduate degree from a prominent UK university in archaeological science and the history of animal domestication in this region.
However, the present estimates of divergence time among the Bos indicus breeds revealed that their origination is almost same time before the history of animal domestication (~10,000 yr).
This proceedings volume contains 13 contributions from international archaeozoologists describing recent research into the earliest phases of animal domestication in West and East Asia.
Ancient pig and goat teeth found near human remains are often indicators of animal domestication, an important part of farming and agriculture.
Having a long east-west axis, as opposed to the long north-south axis of the Americas and Africa, Eurasia was able to engage in the cultural exchange of plant and animal domestication across similar climates.

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