Skip to comments.More questions than answers as mystery of domestication deepens
Posted on 04/23/2014 11:25:00 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
...why did people domesticate a mere dozen or so of the roughly 200,000 species of wild flowering plants? And why only about five of the 148 species of large wild mammalian herbivores or omnivores? And while were at it, why havent more species of either plants or animals been domesticated in modern times? ...
[Fiona Marshall:] We used to think cats and dogs were real outliers in the animal domestication process because they were attracted to human settlements for food and in some sense domesticated themselves. But new research is showing that other domesticated animals may be more like cats and dogs than we thought."
...the first domestications may have been triggered by climate change at the end of the last ice age in combination with social issues.
As a result, people abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle they had successfully followed for 95 percent of human history and turned instead to the new strategies of farming and herding.
As we head into a new era of climate change, Marshall said it would be comforting to know that we understood what happened then and why.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.wustl.edu ...
Why werent zebras ever domesticated? Baron Rothschild frequently drove a carriage pulled by zebras through the streets of 19th-century London. In Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond says the reason zebras were not domesticated is that they are extraordinarily vicious and will bite and not let go. But why werent people able to modify this temperament if they were able to gentle wolves into dogs? [OUT OF COPYRIGHT/CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE]
Stop right there.
No point in going further if she starts with that.
Once you’ve got houses nd donkeys, why bother with zebras? Once you can have sirloin and rack of lamb, why bother with wildebeest? The success of domestication creates its own limits. It works so well, we don’t need additional grain, fruits, vegetables or meats.
Houses s/b horses
Just another academic trying to tie their niche area of study to the global warming research grant gravy train. Large swaths of the scientific community have now been corrupted and utterly discredited by the rush for global warming dollars. They have cried “wolf” so many times now that it is nearly impossible to sort the true science from the politically-driven pseudo science.
If we removed all federal money from scientific research we would quickly find out what is real and what is not.
“Did man domesticate wolves into dogs, or were dogs already a separate species by the time they were domesticated a species more conducive to being domesticated?”
You can’t even get today’s scientists to agree as to whether Dogs & Wolves constitute separate species, or are a single species. The “single species” group is in the minority, but they are pointing at the genetic similarities which is fairly recent evidence, I suppose.
I disagree about the first plant cultivation. I think that, at a much earlier date, man would have domesticated fruit trees such as olives, figs, and apples. Where the seeds fell, there would be seedings that could be transplanted. Also, many trees send out shoots which can also be transplanted. And we have known for quite a while that cuttings can be used to grow new trees.
As far as I am concerned, each of these steps are far less difficult to learn than grain domestication.
My Grandfather had a horse called Pinto Pete only he could ride him. Pete had a wall eye, a roman nose, and a nasty temper, nearly killed my cousin and broke my fathers thumb.
My Grand Dad, a very big and strong man, wore a set of black leather gloves, when riding, and every time Pete turned to bite him he hit him right between the eyes with all of his strength.
When Pete saw Grand Pa was going to be the rider he became a lap dog.
Do you think wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingos and all the rest look down their muzzles at dogs?
I remember a Larson cartoon, two wolves at the edge of woods looking over a (former?) pack mate hanging around the curtilage of a caveman campfire: “Look at his eyes, the cringing submission, I tell you, Sid’s domesticated!”
I think DNA tests ruled-out jackals as dog ancestors, and that’s a good thing, I think.
Yup, once a role is filled adequately why bother taking the time to develop a completely redundant capability from scratch with a different species? Especially when that other species may lack the capabilities of the one it is redundant to.
Raccoons seek out human settlements for food as well. But theycare decidely lacking in many areas to both dogs and cats, which are very much multi-mission tools.
Because those were the plants that tasted good and weren't overly difficult to grow. As for the animals, try milking a jaguar. Seriously, it would be too hard to breed a deer that couldn't jump a fence, or to build fences that would hold them. Additionally, venison bacon sucks.
I think they’re on the ball regarding the predisposition of some species to be domesticated. Some species, such as deer, talking birds, etc, can be hand-tamed from early in life, and yet still have to be kept confined in some way. A preceramic culture left the mainland for Cyprus about 8000 years ago and built a village that was inhabited for some period of time. Their origin is known because all the remains of food species in their rubbish tips were from the mainland, and included a species of deer which they’d corral (and maybe preemptively cripple) and slaughter as needed. Of course, animal husbandry of that kind requires agriculture to supply feed.
Plant domestication could easily be lost. Every farming family used to have their own variety of grain passed down through the generations. However once the railways were introduced the grain was placed into rail cars and homogenization was forced to keep from having so many different varieties mixed together. The world lost tens of thousands of varieties of grain from this one change in infrastructure!
The book “Guns, Germs and Steel” devotes a chapter explaining why some plants were easier to domesticate then other. And why some were never domesticated.
Also discussed why some animals were never domesticated.
Didn’t seem to complicated when he got done explaining it.
Grain domestication (in the case of barley) goes back 14,000 RC years (uncalibrated, so longer ago); the domestication of wheat was accidental — the seeds that hung on better wouldn’t fall onto the ground when the stems were being cut at harvest time, and those got replanted. In a matter of a human lifetime or less there was a stable domesticated variety. Direct evidence in the form of a surviving sample of wheat will probably be hard to come by, because it will have either been eaten or decayed, leaving no trace. Finding that barley was rather amazing.
Nectarines were already cultivated in Sumeria; the wiki-wacky sez peaches were first cultivated in the interior of China about 2000 BC and intro’d to India and the Middle East later on, but also states that nectarines and peaches are the same species, so something’s a little off. Also related to peaches and nectarines are plums, apricots, almonds, and (sez wiki) cherries.
The pomegranate has been cultivated a long while, as have dates (7000 years at least, if memory serves), figs, and lots of other berries and tree fruits. Apples were enjoyed during the Roman Empire.
Science Traces Roots Of ‘Traditional English’ Apple Back To Central Asia
Different species available in different places are one constraint; availability of that species through trade and migration is another constraint. Whatever was the least trouble, or, whomever was best *at* doing it, was yet another constraint.
Domestication of dogs is now believed to be much earlier than used to be the case, and that’s based on remnants of DNA from dog remains that were also RC-datable.
Compare a Prime Beef Steak to venison and you'll see what I mean.
Don't get me wrong, Venison is great. But it's not prime beef either.