Sioux Falls Zoologists

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!"

The mirror test is an experiment developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether an animal possesses the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. It is the primary indicator of self-awareness in non-human animals and marks entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology. Animals that pass the mirror test are: Humans older than 18 mo, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Orangutans, Gorillas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas (Killer Whales), Elephants, and European Magpies. Others showing signs of self-awareness are Pigs, some Gibbons, Rhesus Macaques, Capuchin Monkeys, some Corvids (Crows & Ravens) and Pigeons w/training. (Sorry Kitty!)

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse Designing the Perfect Pet for showing
us that wild animals can be domesticated in six generations,
that fear of humans and violence towards humans can be breed
out of a species in six generations. Much food for thought.

Designing the Perfect Pet
Can a Fox Become Man's Best Friend?
By Evan Ratliff in National Geographic

Taming the Wild (2011) - 26 pages
Taming the Wild

Only a handful of wild animals species have been successfully bred to get along with humans. The reason, scientists say, is found in their genes.

Daisy Mae, a miniature Vietnamese potbellied pig, lounges like a family member in West St. Paul, Minnesota.

Decision Time: Dogs, but not chimpanzees, will follow a finger with their eyes to hidden food - testament to their close social bond with humans. In this experiment at Duke University, will Tasmania favor the pointing of a known caretaker over that of a stranger?

Gone To Extremes: Two chickens, both eight weeks old but vastly different in weight, show off size-based breeding by geneticist Paul Siegel at Virginia Tech. "We're using artificial selection as a tool to look at natural selection. We just accelerate it."

Improbable Pets: Foxes bred through generations to be as human friendly as dogs get a boast from Lyudmila Trut and other staff at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, in Novosibirsk, Siberia.

8-6-18 The first detailed map of red foxes’ DNA may reveal domestication secrets
For nearly 60 years, scientists in Russia have bred tame and aggressive Vulpes vulpes. For nearly 60 years, scientists in Siberia have bred silver foxes in an attempt to replay how domestication occurred thousands of years ago. Now, in a first, researchers have compiled the genetic instruction book, or genome, of Vulpes vulpes, the red fox species that includes the silver-coated variant. This long-awaited study of the foxes’ DNA may reveal genetic changes that drove domestication of animals such as cats and dogs, the team reports online August 6 in Nature Ecology & Evolution. At the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, Russia, researchers bred one group of foxes for ever-tamer behavior, while another group was bred for increasing aggressiveness toward humans (SN: 5/13/17, p. 29). Rif, the male silver fox whose DNA serves as the example, or reference, genome for all members of the species, was the son of an aggressive vixen and a tame male. Geneticist Anna Kukekova of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues also conducted less-detailed examinations of 30 foxes’ DNA: 10 foxes each from the tame and aggressive groups and 10 animals from a “conventional” group that hadn’t been bred for either friendliness or aggression. Those genomes are an invaluable resource for researchers studying domestication, behavioral and population genetics and even human disorders such as autism and mental illness, says Ben Sacks, a canid evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. “It makes all kinds of research possible that weren’t before,” he says.

4-28-17 Fox experiment is replaying domestication in fast-forward
Fox experiment is replaying domestication in fast-forward
New book recounts nearly 60-year effort to understand taming process. How to Tame a Fox tells the story of a long-running experiment to domesticate silver foxes. In 1959, Lyudmila Trut rode trains through Siberia to visit fox farms. She wasn’t looking for furs. She needed a farm to host an audacious experiment dreamed up by geneticist Dmitry Belyaev: to create a domestic animal as docile as a dog from aggressive, wily silver foxes. Evolutionary biologist Lee Alan Dugatkin helps Trut recount this ongoing attempt to replay domestication in How to Tame a Fox. The mechanics of domestication are still a matter of intense scientific debate. Belyaev’s idea was that ancient humans picked wolves and other animals for docility and that this artificial selection jump-started an evolutionary path toward domestication. Back in the 1950s, testing the idea was dangerous work, and not just because untamed foxes bite. In 1948, the Soviet Union, under the scientific leadership of Trofim Lysenko, outlawed genetics research. Lysenko had risen to power based on fabricated claims that freezing seeds in water could increase crop yields. “With Stalin as his ally, he launched a crusade to discredit work in genetics, in part, because proof of the genetic theory of evolution would expose him as a fraud,” Dugatkin and Trut write. Geneticists often lost their jobs, were jailed or even killed, as was Belyaev’s own brother. So Belyaev cloaked his domestication experiments in the guise of improving the fur-farming business. (Webmaster's comment: Genetics controls basic behavior beyond any doubt.)

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Designing the Perfect Pet
Can a Fox Become Man's Best Friend?
By Evan Ratliff in National Geographic

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse Designing the Perfect Pet for showing
us that wild animals can be domesticated in six generations,
that fear of humans and violence towards humans can be breed
out of a species in six generations. Much food for thought.