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Dutchess_III's avatar

Is domesticating foxes an example of humans affecting evolution?

Asked by Dutchess_III (28286 points ) February 28th, 2014

There is market for tamed foxes. They breed only the best natured ones together. Well, we did the same thing to cows, horses, cats and dogs so they are vastly different than their forebears from thousands of years ago.

I read somewhere, however, that after about 5 generations of domestication their fur coloring started changing, without any particular selection on the part of humans. The patterns became more complicated and colorful. I thought that was cool, but I can’t find the link where I saw that.

So is that an example of pretty quick, deliberate evolution?

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18 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Yes, as is any form of selective breeding.

syz's avatar

Yes.

Seek's avatar

Yup. You should see what we’ve done to wild cabbage.

Mmmm… bok choy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And bananas. And corn. And apples. And oranges.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

And viri technically the plural of virus?!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Nice, Seek! Although…I have a grandson named Kale. He may be interested in that some day!

cookieman's avatar

I blame that damn novelty song. They just wanna know what the fox says.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I think brussels sprouts should be in there somewhere as well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They are @Yetanotheruser. Second from left.

Seek's avatar

Yes, it’s a small selection. There are a gagillion things that came from wild cabbage.

Here’s a list: http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Brassica-oleracea.htm
Scroll down to “Cabbage Cultivar Groups”

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Oh! old eyes, new android!

PhiNotPi's avatar

Yes, it is a form of selection.

I think that there was some selection on the part of humans, even if it wasn’t really intentional. For example, people may be more likely to breed foxes who look more colorful, even if they were not specifically looking for color. This would be the selective pressure.

flip86's avatar

You are talking about the Russian fox experiment

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

And Black Angus cattle with necks too short for them to graze so they must be trough-fed, and legs too short and bodies too muscular to get away from natural predators. They are totally dependent on humans as are many other breeds.

cazzie's avatar

Rapeseed (Canola) is on that mustard list as well and it is highly genetically modified by breeding.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@flip86 You know, I do believe I am. “Russia” rings a bell. But I don’t want to watch the video.

Not all domestication is good, but it’s not all bad either.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: If you click on the link for the NY Times article, they mention the patterns on the foxes’ coats.

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