Long-Running Russian Study Helps to Explain How Dogs Evolved from Wolves

Here’s a fascinating video about a study by Russian scientists that has been going on for more than 50 years, in an attempt to learn more about how dogs evolved from wild wolves:

At the time, biologists were puzzled as to how dogs evolved to have different coats than wolves, since they couldn’t figure out how the dogs could have inherited those genes from their ancestors. [Soviet scientist Dmitri] Belyaev saw silver foxes as a perfect opportunity to find out how this happened.

Belyaev believed that the key factor that was selected for was not morphological (physical attributes), but was behavioral. More specifically, he believed that tameness was the critical factor. How amenable was an animal to interacting with humans? This would certainly impact how well an animal would adapt to life with humans.

The results of the study are stunning, as you will see, and they completely changed the way that science viewed the development of the domesticated dog.

Warning: The animals in the Russian study are kept in small cages, which is certainly cruel. The debate over how humans use animals in science is well documented, so my intention is not to go into it here.

Click here for the full story.

Scientists have discovered that, when you breed for a specific behavior such as tameness,
a host of physical genetic changes come along for the ride, as well.

photo courtesy scienceblogs.com

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