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50 Years of Domesticating Foxes For Science 347

gamebittk writes "In 1959, Soviet scientist Dmitri Belyaev set out to breed a tamer fox that would be easier for their handlers in the Russian fur industry to work with. Much to the scientist's shock, changes no one had expected emerged after just 10 generations. The foxes began behaving playfully, were smaller in size, and even changed color — much like dogs." Belyaev died in 1985, but the experiment continued (PDF) in his absence, and to this day provides strong evidence to parts of evolutionary theory. The experiment eventually branched out to involve other species as well.
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50 Years of Domesticating Foxes For Science

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  • by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:20AM (#30555916) Homepage
    Reminds me of the Cold War Dog Fight joke: The Americans and Russians at the height of the arms race realized that if they continued in the usual manner they were going to blow up the whole world. One day they sat down and decided to settle the whole dispute with one dog fight. They'd have five years to breed the best fighting dog in the world and which ever side's dog won would be entitled to dominate the world. The losing side would have to lay down its arms. The Russians found the biggest meanest Doberman and Rottweiler dogs in the world and bred them with the biggest meanest Siberian wolves. They selected only the biggest and strongest puppy from each litter, killed his siblings, and gave him all the milk. They used steroids and trainers and after five years came up with the biggest meanest dog the world had ever seen. Its cage needed steel bars that were five inches thick and nobody could get near it. When the day came for the dog fight, the Americans showed up with a strange animal. It was a nine foot long Dachshund. Everyone felt sorry for the Americans because they knew there was no way that this dog could possibly last ten seconds with the Russian dog.

    When the cages were opened up, the Dachshund came out of it's cage and slowly waddled over towards the Russian dog. The Russian dog snarled and leaped out of it's cage and charged the American dachshund. But, when it got close enough to bite the Dachshund's neck, the Dachshund opened it's mouth and consumed the Russian dog in one bite. There was nothing left at all of the Russian dog.

    The Russians came up to the Americans shaking their heads in disbelief. 'We don't understand how this could have happened. We had our best people working for five years with the meanest Doberman and Rottweiler in the world and the biggest meanest Siberian wolves." That's nothing", an American replied."We had our best plastic surgeons working for five years to make an alligator look like a Dachshund."
  • Re:History (Score:3, Funny)

    by orasio ( 188021 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:49AM (#30556102) Homepage

    Never the less, it's always scary when humans play god. Something is going to happen eventually, so should be really careful about it.

    I hate to break this to you, but there's no one left to play god if we don't do it.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:35PM (#30556822) Journal

    One of the passers-by took out a gun and shot the marine dead. As the marine lay dying, his la gasp was a question - "How dare you defy God?"

    The passer-by said "Darwin was busy, so he sent me!"

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <almafuerte&gmail,com> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @02:08PM (#30557056)

    First, it was a wild fox, quick and smart.

    After a few years, it became playful, domesticated, slow, stupid, and unstable. I'm on Chrome now. ;)

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.