• The Silver Fox Domestication Experiment: How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog

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    • Keywords


      Evolution, domestication, behavior, foxes, natural selection.

    • Abstract


      For the last sixty years, a team of Russian geneticists have been running one of the most important biology experiments of the 20th, and now 21st, century. Each year they have selected the calmest foxes—foxes that are most prosocial to humans—to mimic the early stages of domestication. After providing an overview of how the silver fox domestication study began, I will discuss: 1) work on social cognition in the domesticated silver foxes, 2) work on the molecular genetics of domestication in the silver foxes, including work on changes in allele frequencies and changes in gene expression patterns, 3) a new hypothesis for how selection on tameness leads to the domestication syndrome via changes in the number and migration patterns of neural crest cells very early on in development, and 4) how the silver fox domestication experiment has led to new hypotheses about self-domestication in primates, including humans.

    • Author Affiliations


      Lee Alan Dugatkin1

      1. University of Louisville Louisville, KY, 40292, USA
    • Dates


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