Eugenic history: Russian domestication of foxes

Belyaev hypothesized that the anatomical and physiological changes seen in domesticated animals could have been the result of selection on the basis of behavioral traits. More specifically, he believed that tameness was the critical factor. How amenable was an animal to interacting with humans?

Belyaev wondered if selecting for tameness and against aggression would result in hormonal and neurochemical changes, since behavior ultimately emerged from biology. Those hormonal and chemical changes could then be implicated in anatomy and physiology. It could be that the anatomical differences in domesticated dogs were related to the genetic changes underlying the behavioral temperament for which they selected (tameness and low aggression). He believed that he could investigate these questions about domestication by attempting to domesticate wild foxes. Belyaev and his colleagues took wild silver foxes (a variant of the red fox) and bred them, with a strong selection criteria for inherent tameness.

…The domesticated foxes were more eager to hang out with humans, whimpered to attract attention, and sniffed and licked their caretakers. They wagged their tails when they were happy or excited. (Does that sound at all like your pet dog?) Further, their fear response to new people or objects was reduced, and they were more eager to explore new situations. Many of the domesticated foxes had floppy ears, short or curly tails, extended reproductive seasons, changes in fur coloration, and changes in the shape of their skulls, jaws, and teeth. They also lost their “musky fox smell.”

Essentially, you can’t isolate one “trait” in breeding from its pairs, the behaviour emerges from certain genetic clusters. Even eye-colour is heavily complicated (Mendelian genetic squares are outmoded beyond genetic diseases).  Same applies to people – the appearance seems to betray the character.

e.g. off the top of my head, testosterone manjaw and interpersonal aggression – the connection is real and cannot be broken, they are mutual outcomes of the same genetic material cluster, you cannot have one without the other

The people worrying about eugenics “deleting” “undesirables”  aka The Hitler Problem least understand it. The undesirable quantities, if ethically selected, would be universal human preferences. How practical is this?

Easiest of the changes is to reduce dysgenics (less disease, mental illness, ugliness, premature death and suffering) et cetera and I have never met anybody against THAT. This would raise the genetic quality, eugenic by default.

FI FYI: anti-racism “consensus”

One response to “Eugenic history: Russian domestication of foxes

  1. Pingback: Neural network clusters by function – proof | Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar

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