The Cellar  

Go Back   The Cellar > Images > Image of the Day

Image of the Day Images that will blow your mind - every day. [Blog] [RSS] [XML]

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 03-11-2005, 11:09 AM   #1
Undertoad
Radical Centrist
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Cottage of Prussia
Posts: 31,423
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!
Undertoad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 11:43 AM   #2
LabRat
twatfaced two legged bumhole
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,143
A-dorable!! and an interesting story, too...
__________________
Strength does not come from how much weight you can lift, or how many miles you can run. It comes from knowing that you set a goal, and rose to the challenge. Strength comes from within.
LabRat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 11:45 AM   #3
Beestie
-◊|≡·∙■·∙≡|◊-
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Parts unknown.
Posts: 4,081
I want one.
__________________
Beestie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 12:03 PM   #4
Trilby
Slattern of the Swail
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 15,654
Well, Ted Kaczinsky was smart...but he sure wasn't social!

Cute little foxies!
__________________
In Barrie's play and novel, the roles of fairies are brief: they are allies to the Lost Boys, the source of fairy dust and ...They are portrayed as dangerous, whimsical and extremely clever but quite hedonistic.

"Shall I give you a kiss?" Peter asked and, jerking an acorn button off his coat, solemnly presented it to her.
—James Barrie


Wimminfolk they be tricksy. - ZenGum
Trilby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 12:21 PM   #5
lookout123
changed his status to single
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Right behind you. No, the other side.
Posts: 10,308
Ted Kaczinsky, Ted Kaczinsky... was his middle initial "W"? and does he regularly post in The Cellar?
__________________
Getting knocked down is no sin, it's not getting back up that's the sin
lookout123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 12:51 PM   #6
Kitsune
still eats dirt
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 3,031
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.
Kitsune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 01:11 PM   #7
Buckethead
Provocateur
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 9
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.
Buckethead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 01:17 PM   #8
jinx
Come on, cat.
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: general vicinity of Philadelphia area
Posts: 7,013
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.
__________________
Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good.
jinx is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 01:21 PM   #9
Kitsune
still eats dirt
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 3,031
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.
Kitsune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 01:28 PM   #10
dar512
dar512 is now Pete Zicato
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Chicago suburb
Posts: 4,968
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?
__________________
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
-- Friedrich Schiller
dar512 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 01:39 PM   #11
sandra77
Antagonistic Antagonist
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 22
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
sandra77 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 02:59 PM   #12
Kitsune
still eats dirt
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 3,031
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.
Kitsune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 04:11 PM   #13
xant
Belt Conveyor
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 65
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. :-)

Last edited by xant; 03-11-2005 at 04:14 PM.
xant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 04:14 PM   #14
Beestie
-◊|≡·∙■·∙≡|◊-
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Parts unknown.
Posts: 4,081
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.
__________________
Beestie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2005, 04:32 PM   #15
hampor
Colloquialist
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: SiliValley
Posts: 75
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?
hampor is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:27 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.