The program was started in 1959 in the Soviet Union by zoologist Dmitry Belyayev and it has been in continuous operation since. The experiment was initiated by scientists who were interested in the topic of domestication and the process by which wolves became domesticated dogs. In a time when centralized political control in the fields of genetics and agriculture promoted Lysenkoism as an official state doctrine, Belyayev’s commitment to classical genetics had cost him his job as head of the Department of Fur Animal Breeding at the Central Research Principles of animal behavior lee alan dugatkin pdf of Fur Breeding in Moscow in 1948. Belyayev believed that the key factor selected for in the domestication of dogs was not size or fertility, but behavior: specifically, tameability.
Since behavior is rooted in biology, selecting for tameness and against aggression means selecting for physiological changes in the systems that govern the body’s hormones and neurochemicals. Belyayev decided to test his theory by domesticating foxes, in particular, the silver fox, a dark color mutation of the red fox. He placed a population of them under strong selection pressure for inherent tameness. The least domesticated foxes, those that flee from experimenters or bite when stroked or handled, are assigned to Class III. Foxes in Class II let themselves be petted and handled but show no emotionally friendly response to experimenters. Foxes in Class I are friendly toward experimenters, wagging their tails and whining.
In the sixth generation bred for tameness we had to add an even higher-scoring category. Belyayev and Trut believed that selecting for tameness mimics the natural selection that must have occurred in the ancestral past of dogs, and, more than any other quality, must have determined how well an animal would adapt to life among humans. Russian scientists achieved a population of domesticated foxes that are fundamentally different in temperament and behavior from their wild forebears. Some important changes in physiology and morphology became visible, such as mottled or spotted colored fur. The project also bred the least-tameable foxes to study social behavior in canids.
These foxes avoided human contact as do their wild behavioral phenotypes. Similar research was carried out in Denmark with American mink. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, the project ran into serious financial problems. In 2014, officials stated that the number of foxes was never reduced and is still stable at about 2,000. As of August 2016, there are 270 tame vixens and 70 tame males on the farm. In another published study, a system of measuring fox behavior was described that is expected to be useful in QTL mapping to explore the genetic basis of tame and aggressive behavior in foxes.
100th anniversary of the birth of Dmitry Konstantinovich Belyaev. The tamed fox gives the scientist a paw and wags the tail. Georgian white, the lattermost being a color exclusive to the Russian breeding project. A Russian domesticated red fox with Georgian white fur color. A Russian domesticated red fox with classic red fur color. Early Canid Domestication: The Farm-Fox Experiment”.
Domestication of foxes and problems of modern animal breeding”. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Experimental Studies of Early Canid Domestication”. Principles and Applications of Domestic Animal Behavior.
Ученые Уничтожают Ручных Лисиц и Норок” . A Soviet scientist created the only tame foxes in the world”. Measurement of Segregating Behaviors in Experimental Silver Fox Pedigrees”. This article’s use of external links may not follow Wikipedia’s policies or guidelines. This page was last edited on 18 March 2018, at 00:31.