Visit the Cellar!

The Cellar Image of the Day is just a section of a larger web community: bright folks talking about everything. The Cellar is the original coffeeshop with no coffee and no shop. Founded in 1990, The Cellar is one of the oldest communities on the net. Join us at the table if you like!

 
What's IotD?

The interesting, amazing, or mind-boggling images of our days.

IotD Stuff

ARCHIVES - over 13 years of IotD!
About IotD
RSS2
XML

Permalink Latest Image

June 26th, 2017: Tricksy Critters

Recent Images

June 25th, 2017: Zero Milestone
June 24th, 2017: North American Food
June 23rd, 2017: Moist Towelettes
June 22nd, 2017: Doodling
June 21st, 2017: Octopus’s Garden
June 20th, 2017: Money Slang
June 19th, 2017: French Phony

The CELLAR Tip Mug
Some folks who have noticed IotD

Neatorama
Worth1000
Mental Floss
Boing Boing
Switched
W3streams
GruntDoc's Blog
No Quarters
Making Light
darrenbarefoot.com
GromBlog
b3ta
Church of the Whale Penis
UniqueDaily.com
Sailor Coruscant
Projectionist

Link to us and we will try to find you after many months!

Common image haunts

Astro Pic of the Day
Earth Sci Pic of the Day
We Make Money Not Art
Spluch
ochevidec.net
Strange New Products
Geisha Asobi Blog
Cute animals blog (in Russian)
20minutos.es
Yahoo Most Emailed

Please avoid copyrighted images (or get permission) when posting!

Advertising

Philadelphia Pawn Shop
The best real estate agent in Montgomery County
The best T.38 Fax provider
Epps Beverages and Beer, Limerick, PA
Sal's Pizza, Elkins Park
Burholme Auto Body, Philadelphia
Coles Tobacco, Pottstown
ERM Auto Service, Glenside
Glenside Collision
Moorehead Catering, Trappe
Salon 153, Bala
Dominicks Auto Body, Phoenixville

   Undertoad  Friday Mar 11 12:09 PM

3/11/2005: Domesticated foxes



In 1959 a Russian scientist set out to create what you're seeing today - and the results may help understand how human intelligence operates.

These ARE foxes - bred specifically for certain traits.

Both Belyaeve and Trut selected foxes for one criterion only – tameness, which was evaluated by the foxes' reactions to their human keepers. If they were vicious, they didn't join the experimental population. If they showed slight fear and friendliness, they did. To ensure that their tameness resulted from genetic selections, the scientists didn't train the foxes and their contact with humans was limited to brief, behavioural tests.

Now, 40 years and 45,000 foxes later, Trut has a unique population of 100 foxes that are docile and eager to please. They snarl fiercely at each other for the attention of their human handler. Each of them is a product of between 30 and 35 generations of selection.




The specially domesticated foxes are not only socially adept, adds Hare, they are regular charmers. "They behave like dogs," he says. "They whine and bark, they wag their tails, they pee for joy, and they just want to cuddle with you."

But don't expect fox kits to be appearing in pet stores any time soon. The foxes have a pungent musk and love to dig and hide food, says Hare. "They would bury your food in your sofa and you would only find it three months later."


The interesting side-effect, the one they didn't count on, was that the domesticated foxes became smarter and more able to "read" humans. Dogs are thought to be smarter than wild wolves because they can interpret human signals such as pointing. But the domesticated foxes are becoming "smart" too:

Researchers put puppies and fox kits through a series of experiments where the animals had to find hidden food, with a human researcher's gestures as the only clue to its location.

Both the puppies and the foxes bred for tameness found the food with about the same level of success. Both did significantly better than foxes bred at the same facility that hadn't been selected for tameness.

The results surprised Brian Hare, the study's lead author, who conducted the research while a Harvard doctoral student.

"I did not think the experimentally domesticated foxes would perform as well as dogs," Hare said. "In fact, I thought that in their failure, it would prove that dogs possessed their unusual ability to use social cues not because they are domesticated, but because this ability was under direct selection. ... Smarter dogs survived better [with humans] and passed on their 'smart genes' to the next generation."


The notion is that we didn't get smart because of 100% natural selection; we became smart because we found a distinct advantage to becoming SOCIAL.

This is a nasty finding for hermits like me!



LabRat  Friday Mar 11 12:43 PM

A-dorable!! and an interesting story, too...



Beestie  Friday Mar 11 12:45 PM

I want one.



Trilby  Friday Mar 11 01:03 PM

Well, Ted Kaczinsky was smart...but he sure wasn't social!

Cute little foxies!



lookout123  Friday Mar 11 01:21 PM

Ted Kaczinsky, Ted Kaczinsky... was his middle initial "W"? and does he regularly post in The Cellar?



Kitsune  Friday Mar 11 01:51 PM

Ah, poor foxes. I'm torn on this one: while I would love to have one, they're something I would prefer to see in the wild. It doesn't seem right to prevent something that beautiful and intelligent from running free.

But, as my nickname suggests, I can't resist them. Sigh.



Buckethead  Friday Mar 11 02:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
Ah, poor foxes. I'm torn on this one: while I would love to have one, they're something I would prefer to see in the wild. It doesn't seem right to prevent something that beautiful and intelligent from running free.
I suspect that these cuddly, nice, selectively bred foxes wouldn't last too long in the wild. Have you ever actually seen a fox in the wild? They seem to have a knack for avoiding being seen by humans, or at least by me. I've seen a total of one in my lifetime.


jinx  Friday Mar 11 02:17 PM

Where are you from, I've seen a bunch. Saw one a couple of months ago (in a pumpkin patch) with both of my kids with me.



Kitsune  Friday Mar 11 02:21 PM

Have you ever actually seen a fox in the wild?

The really depressing part is that I haven't. I've certainly heard them, before, but I've yet to actually see one. Elusive little fuzzballs.

As for survival in the wild, I suspect they would probably do just as well as any domesticated dog or cat does when released, if not a bit better. I'd prefer that foxes maintained their fear of humans because, well, they're extremely cool for the intelligence they hold in evading people, sneaking about, and generally being, well, foxy.

Suggesting that no longer fearing humans has increased their social intelligence goes against what I see to be a fox's true smarts. They're social animals in the wild with each other already -- befriending people would be more harmful to them than good should the trait ever escape beyond the confines of the lab and actually survive.



dar512  Friday Mar 11 02:28 PM

What surprises me is how little time this took. Not that I have any expertise in this area, but I would have expected something more along the lines of an evolutionary timeline.

They don't say how many generations of selection they went through. But over 40 years it'd be ~20 or 30.

So how long before the marines breed an army of ape soldiers?



sandra77  Friday Mar 11 02:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckethead
I suspect that these cuddly, nice, selectively bred foxes wouldn't last too long in the wild. Have you ever actually seen a fox in the wild? They seem to have a knack for avoiding being seen by humans, or at least by me. I've seen a total of one in my lifetime.
I agree. I don't think they would last long either. They haven't been bred for surviving in the wild.

I have seen several foxes in the wild. We have a field behind our house & have watched a fox out there this winter. I was just watching him come across the field this morning.

Several years ago, a fox had a den with kits that we could watch from the road. They were really cute.

With all that said, I want one too but I think I would rather have a red one.

Sandra


Kitsune  Friday Mar 11 03:59 PM

With all that said, I want one too but I think I would rather have a red one.

They should have plenty of reds. The ones shown, silver foxes, are just a color/pattern variant of a red. I bet they would look kind of strange with the new, white markings, though.



xant  Friday Mar 11 05:11 PM

Respectfully, Kitsune, I think you're missing the point here. For all of UT's declaration that these ARE foxes I think that they truly are not. This is a new thing, just as dogs are not wolves. Wolves still exist, and are still in the wild. Dogs are just not part of that niche any more. So I think it will go with these foxes. They may continue to be called foxes, but they are really Vulpes domesticus now.

FWIW, I love wild foxes too, and have seen a small handful. Best was when I lived in Dublin, CA in a secluded townhouse complex surrounded by lots of trees, and with very few lights around the residences. Went out for a walk one night with my girlfriend and her daughter. We sat on a wall and watched deer come out of the woods and eat, and then walked around until we saw..just for a second..a fox climbing along a wall near the townhouses.

Scared the crap out of the girls. :-)



Beestie  Friday Mar 11 05:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
Have you ever actually seen a fox in the wild?
Saw one in the back yard a few months ago. A red one. Gorgeous animals.


hampor  Friday Mar 11 05:32 PM

Generation XXXV

The article it said that there had been 30-35 generations of foxes.

And 45,000 foxes. I'm afraid to think about what happened to all of them.

Also, how big was the population that they started with.

Wasn't Stalin really down on evolution?



jaguar  Friday Mar 11 05:37 PM

i spend quite a bit of time of late (when I can get it) exploring the derelict rail infrastructure around this area, I've got used to getting glimpses of foxes darting off. The only encounter that got me was when I put my head round the door of a storage shed and a fox stared back at me for a good 10 seconds before heading off, there was just that moment where I thought 'this is a fairly desperate wild animal with sharp teeth and I'm a big lump of unarmed flesh'.



FloridaDragon  Friday Mar 11 07:22 PM

In my last house in Jupiter Farms FL I had a pair of foxes den under my deck. They raised 3 litters of kits and they were all semi friendly with me. The Mom used to sit a few feet away while the babies would run around me, ignoring me for all practical purposes...Dad was always more aloof. They always got more skitish when they grew up which was just fine for me as I wasn't trying to domesticate them. They did like homemade biscuits however

Here are some pictures of them.

FD



FloridaDragon  Friday Mar 11 07:31 PM

One more image ... cute little buggers .....



capnhowdy  Friday Mar 11 09:15 PM

Which one is the fox?
I guess the one with the red hair.
I believe any species can be domesticated with years & years & generation after generation of breeding & environmental control.
The fox, if I had to guess, would be one of the most difficult to domesticate.
These guys ARE beautiful!
Folks are always fuckin with nature. I'm sure they are adorable pets. I still think maybe we should leave at least SOME species alone and let the planet turn as it always has.
I can imagine my great grandkids telling their kids...." yeah, these animals used to be one of the wildest, most free & independant creatures ever........."
I just hope they don't wind up on the storyline with the buffalo.
I wonder if the blue eyes are a sign of strength or weakness in the genetic code. Code may not be the right word, but you know what the hell I mean. I will research that. There's good odds a fellow-cellarite already knows. C'mon ...........I'm lazy.



xoxoxoBruce  Friday Mar 11 09:49 PM

Foxes in PA are on the decline because of rabies and being displaced by coyotes which are bigger, more agressive and seek the same habitat.

A few years ago I was following an abandon railroad track near my house and found a dead red fox. It was in the fall when their fur is primo and the carcass was in perfect condition. Since there was no clue as to the cause of death, I brought it home and called the Game Commision to see if they wanted to check it out. No.

I buried it but saved that gorgeous tail and hung it over one of my work benchs down cellar. A couple of weeks later I discovered the cats had used it for a punching (clawing) bag, stripping half the hair off. Damnit.



blase  Friday Mar 11 11:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckethead
I suspect that these cuddly, nice, selectively bred foxes wouldn't last too long in the wild. Have you ever actually seen a fox in the wild? They seem to have a knack for avoiding being seen by humans, or at least by me. I've seen a total of one in my lifetime.
Spotted one on Weds.


Kitsune  Saturday Mar 12 08:12 AM

FloridaDragon, did you get to see any of those greys do their tree climbing trick?



Syrinx  Saturday Mar 12 10:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xant
Best was when I lived in Dublin, CA in a secluded townhouse complex surrounded by lots of trees, and with very few lights around the residences. Went out for a walk one night with my girlfriend and her daughter. We sat on a wall and watched deer come out of the woods and eat, and then walked around until we saw..just for a second..a fox climbing along a wall near the townhouses.
Very cool! I live in Pleasanton, CA, about 5 minutes south of Dublin. Where in Dublin did you live? Most of Dublin now has been urbanized and commercialized. Maybe the west side near San Ramon Valley Boulevard and the forested ridge? Or in the eastern rolling country (before construction presumably drove all wildlife away)?


FloridaDragon  Saturday Mar 12 10:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
FloridaDragon, did you get to see any of those greys do their tree climbing trick?
Never saw them climb trees ... can they do that? One fun thing - I used to go out there at night when the kits were more active and try to take their picture (was using a 35mm back then) ... well they would not stand still long enough for me to focus and take the picture...but I noticed they were eating the june beetles that would hit the flood lights and drop...so I would grab a bug, focus on a specific spot and drop the bug there .... click! Have to dig those old paper photos out of the closet one of these days and scan them. The first picture I uploaded is still my favorite...looks like he/she is winking at you.


footfootfoot  Saturday Mar 12 11:47 PM

OK, maybe it is too obvious, but someone has to type it:

Quote:
They snarl fiercely at each other for the attention of their human handler.
I guess I might too, if that was my handler...

There. I did it.


Karenv  Sunday Mar 13 12:34 AM

I've seen wild foxes in the Catskills in NY State. They are lovely creatures, witha self-contained air about them.



Kitsune  Sunday Mar 13 09:23 AM

Never saw them climb trees ... can they do that?

Yeah -- grey foxes will scoot up a tree, find a branch, and take a nap. They're the only fox that can climb like that.

I'd love to see the pictures you took!



richlevy  Sunday Mar 13 09:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce
Foxes in PA are on the decline because of rabies and being displaced by coyotes which are bigger, more agressive and seek the same habitat.(
Probably a lot of that is also loss of habitat to humans. In my area, they are building an over-55 community called FoxField. Of course, the first thing you do when building a community is remove the reason for the community's name. If the community is called "Singing Oaks", the first order of business is that all of the oak trees are cut down. The first fox I saw here, about a year ago, was after they started clearing the land. I haven't seen one since, but since I saw this one about dusk, they might be keeping to themselves until dark. This is fine by me, since I do worry about rabies in the population.


Griff  Sunday Mar 13 11:47 AM

Up here we have a pretty good population of gray and red foxes. Last summer I saw a bunch of red fox kits cavorting by my Dads pond. I think they are living in a den surrounded by multiflora rose and black berry briars. I'm not sure if the adults were picking off juvenile canadian geese for food but they seemed very well fed etc... Rabies is a big problem here as well.



Nightsong  Sunday Mar 13 02:53 PM

I actually see them fairly often. Living in a moderatly rural town in SOuth Carolina helps. I live about 30 minutes out of Charleston. The sad part is I see quite a few more dead ones then live ones. But the live ones are breath taking. Many of the native species here have made minor come backs in the last decade or so. Though the area is growing rapidlty there is a push to make the neighborhoods more like parks since people want to live in that old Carolina feel. This has helped some.

Foxes are just one of the great animals we have seen lately. Bald eagles have been nesting nearby again. Various raptors of all types (out state has a breeding program for them) Hell my dog got chased by a great horned owl the other night. Of late I have also seen wild mink, and in the nearby Beidler forest that I occasionally drive through at night there are wolves again were there weren't any a few years ago. You think a fox is impressive, try staring down a wild wolf. Even in the car that is an awesome sight. BUt there are little furry critters that arent as cute but equally important to the ecosphere. Why heres one now!



xoxoxoBruce  Sunday Mar 13 03:38 PM

Didn't your Momma tell you not to play with your food?



sixfeet  Sunday Mar 13 09:39 PM

To add to nightsongs post and the domestication: We let the cats in when they claw at the door and we tried briefly feeding them outside. Well I tell him it is his turn and he lets the possum in along with the cats!!!! I look up at him and tell him you let a rat in...lol. We do not feed the cats outside because of that night.



footfootfoot  Monday Mar 14 12:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguar
snip... 'this is a fairly desperate wild animal with sharp teeth and I'm a big lump of unarmed flesh'.
Unarmed flesh?
R i i i i i ght...
" The jaguar is the largest and most powerful of the American members of the cat family."


Next, I suppose you'll be telling us that you're not a babe magnet either.


OnyxCougar  Wednesday Mar 16 11:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dar512
What surprises me is how little time this took. Not that I have any expertise in this area, but I would have expected something more along the lines of an evolutionary timeline.

They don't say how many generations of selection they went through. But over 40 years it'd be ~20 or 30.

So how long before the marines breed an army of ape soldiers?
Must. Not. Get. Into. This. Here.


OnyxCougar  Wednesday Mar 16 11:37 AM

By the way, did anyone notice the researcher's comment on the foxes peeing because they're happy to see you? Since when is that a good thing???

And I love the blue eye'd ones, they are so pretty....



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Mar 16 11:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by OnyxCougar
By the way, did anyone notice the researcher's comment on the foxes peeing because they're happy to see you? Since when is that a good thing???
Some people desire that in a paramour.


Kitsune  Wednesday Mar 16 12:49 PM

And I love the blue eye'd ones, they are so pretty....

Those don't last long. All fox kits have blue eyes when they're born, but the color changes to a rich amber a short time later.



Undertoad  Wednesday Mar 16 02:38 PM

Peeing is pack behavior, a social signal that now extends to humans.



BigV  Wednesday Mar 16 02:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
Peeing is pack behavior, a social signal that now extends to humans.
I guess the guys I hang out with are (thankfully) still sub human. The women on the other hand...


xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Mar 16 04:22 PM

You're right UT, just look at the line to the ladies room.



Your reply here?

The Cellar Image of the Day is just a section of a larger web community: a bunch of interesting folks talking about everything. Add your two cents to IotD by joining the Cellar.