Monday, April 16, 2012

Fact of the Day: Nice Foxes

In 1959 Soviet scientist Dmitry Konstantinovich Belyaev started an experiment to domesticate a silver fox like how many scientists believe humans did the same to wolves which later became dogs. After decades of work, the foxes started changing little by little, and became dog-like. The project successfully created the domesticated silver fox, which were tame enough for Russia to later give away some as pets when the project faced funding issues. 

9 comments:

  1. ok so he did this, but what was the point? for people to have pet foxes?

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    1. probably to prove that he could do it. Sometimes projects like that serve no real purpose

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    2. Belyaev began this experiment because he had noted (like many others) that there is a similar pattern of changes that occur when animals are domesticated. Colours change, tails change, ears become floppy. He hypothesised that these changes were due to selection for amenability to domestication. He obtained 130 foxes from a fur farm and bred only the tamest to each other, within about 8 generations, he started noting morphological changes in line with the pattern observed in domestic animals.

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  2. "Tame enough for Russia".....in Soviet Russia, foxes tame you!
    If somebody had continued his work, we could have the first domesticated foxes available for a more widespread clientele by now.

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    1. actually the project is still going on today. The original guy mentioned below was sacked from his job for some people thought he was a quack

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    2. Belyaev began the fox project some years after being sacked due to the political/scientific movement at the time which decried classic genetics (Look up Lysenkoism if you are interested). He started the fox project after becoming the director of the Russian Institute of Cytology and Genetics - he held this post, and continued this project, until his death in 1985.

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  3. Interesting, never knew there was such a project. But with so many dogs, why does one need foxes?

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  4. So where can I buy one? I want a pet fox (No I don't, I hear they smell terrible. I wonder if there's any truth to that).

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  5. Pet fox a real one not soft toy? To catch easter bunnies?

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