Episode 27 – Domestication

Listen to Episode 27 on PodBean, Spotify, YouTube, or your favorite podcast-place!

This episode, we explore the recent evolutionary innovation that gave rise to everything from corgis to cattle to cauliflower, and kick-started humanity’s rise to world dominance: Domestication.

In the news
A New Dinosaur With Iridescent Feathers
The Oldest Fossil Moths and Butterflies
The Evolution of Tail Weapons
Barnacles Reveal Ancient Whale Migration

Domestication occurs when one species (mostly humans, but not always) takes over the care and reproduction of another, eventually artificially evolving a new lineage, tailor-made for their own purposes. Human-driven domestication has produced hundreds of breeds of livestock, crops, pets, and more.

On the left, a wild banana compared to 4 breeds of domesticated bananas. On the right, red junglefowl compared with its domesticated cousin, the chicken. Images from Wikimedia Commons, by Warut Rooguthai, TimothyPilgrim, JJ Harrison, and Daniel Schwen

Artificial breeding can produce wildly varying results. The huge diversity of dog breeds are all bred from one or a few ancestral populations, and all of these plants are breeds of one wild species.

In the Episode, we also discussed the famous Fox Farm Experiment! Learn more here and find more references and some videos of the foxes here!

Some more Info:
Taming of the Cat – An engaging overview of research into cat domestication, written by cat researchers.
A New Origin Story for Dogs – An Atlantic article presenting recent research on dog domestication.
The Evolution of Maize – A detailed delve into the history of one particular domesticated plant species.

More technical:
Larson & Fuller 2014. The Evolution of Animal Domestication – A good overview with relatively easy-to-read technical info, plus some GREAT figures (Figs 1 and 2) depicting a visual history of many domesticated species.
Diamond, 2002. Evolution, consequences and future of plant and animal domestication – A not-too-technical discussion of the past and future of domestication, and what it has meant for our own species.
Zeder 2015. Core questions in domestication research – This one is a very technical recent discussion of challenges in defining and describing domestication.

Two of David’s personal favorite domesticated critters.

If you enjoyed this topic and want more like it, check out these related episodes:

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