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Re: [xmca] Re: Dogs

Steve-- Consider this way of thinking about the dumb things we do throughout
our lives:

"We leave childhood without knowing what youth is, we marry without knowing
what it is to be
married, and even when we enter old age, we don't know what it is we're
heading for; the old
are innocent children of their old age. In that sense a man's world is a
planet of inexperience."
Milan Kundera in *The art of the novel.

Ps- (Fits my experience, death and taxes notwithstanding)

On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 6:48 PM, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com> wrote:

> Well put, Martin, and an interesting question to pose.  When one steps back
> and thinks of the quantity and scope of plants and animals that humans have
> domesticated - and many more that humans have influenced, such as crows, who
> I understand are not known to live further than 5 km from human habitation
> anywhere in the world - on every continent and in every possible environment
> - not to mention the massive forest, mountainside, plains, steppe, jungle
> etc. management humans engaged in long before industrial economies - it is
> easier to grasp the idea that humans have been biologically domesticating
> themselves just as they have been mastering this planet's flora and fauna.
>  Selecting for immaturity (neoteny) is a very interesting aspect to
> emphasize.  It also puts a nicer spin on some of the dumb things I have done
> as an adult!  LOL
> - Steve
> On Nov 10, 2010, at 1:28 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>  Larry,
>> I too saw the Dogs Decoded documentary last night, and found it
>> fascinating. As you described, the evidence suggests that domestication of
>> wolves has changed their DNA only a fraction (98.6% the same as wolves, if I
>> recall correctly), but nevertheless has transformed their inherited
>> behavior. Dogs, but not wolves, can follow human pointing gestures and even
>> eye direction. They spontaneously pay attention to human activity, and
>> quickly learn to respond to spoken commands and even identify objects by
>> name.
>> The suggestion in the documentary was that this has occurred through
>> selective breeding of the least aggressive animals in each generation, and
>> that this amounts to selecting for characteristics of immature animals. The
>> youngest wolves are the least aggressive, so that selective breeding of
>> wolves for less aggression will actually over time slow their developmental
>> process.
>> We have domesticated wolves as dogs; haven't we also domesticated
>> ourselves? If 50 generations of selective breeding can transform a wolf or a
>> fox, what has tens of thousands of years of our own selective breeding done
>> to and for humans? Darwin noted the phenomenon of sexual selection -  mates
>> are selected, and bred with, for their desirable characteristics.
>> Aggression, I suppose, in some societies, but presumably playfulness in
>> others. We have 99% of our genome in common with chimpanzees, but that small
>> difference has been the product not only of random variation but also of
>> cultural selection. The finding that childhood in homo sapiens lasts much
>> longer than it did for homo habitus, for example, suggests that we too have
>> selected ourselves for characteristics of immaturity. Are we slowing down
>> our own ontogenesis, and as a consequence giving ourselves more time to
>> learn to master the complexities of modern life?
>> Martin
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