Evolution in action - Russian domestic silver fox

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Evolution in action - Russian domestic silver fox

Hello.
You guys with Discovery channel surely know this for years, but I found it out recently by coincidence.
So this Russian scientist Dimitri Belyaev bred a new kind of a fox, which looks and behaves like a dog, maybe even better! I love this idea. I had seen some photos and videos, and they're very adorable and endearing. (and also without their strong fox smell) I'm glad that I didn't know about this scientific experiment when I was a kid, I'd be an awful sod for looong, looong time, or until I'd get one. In fact, a tame or domestic fox as a pet is my childhood dream, which now became possible. I don't like dogs yapping and cats are often too loud as well, but this fox miracle looks like it's best of them.

While I won't ever be able to get one (I've got two cats and no exotic animal license) I'd like to ask if anyone heard how is the research project going. I had read they had financial problems, and also some of the foxes obviously found a way to people's homes. I think this species needs to be preserved, there's a lot of good work behind them and kids likes them so much...
British writer and painter Benjamin Creme describes this kind of development in his books. He wrote, that certain old species are gradually being put out of existence, (so they're as good as dead) but a human presence and activity has a huge influence on all animal species. By our effort, breeding techniques, genetic engineering and also psychologic and mental interaction, there will be created new animal species, accustomed to live and cooperate with human society. He mainly considered these, which are already close to humans, like dogs, horses, camels or elephants, but this domestic silver fox seems just like a first sign of that trend. It would be great if they'd became more widespread as pets.
But are these species in jeopardy? Is there enough of the domestic foxes in the world, or will we have to start that 40 years of (a bit cold-hearted if you ask me) work again? Is there some sort of their owners' union, where they can ensure a breeding out of the actual russian research facility?

Here are some videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDb27ZP9zEE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enrLSfxTqZ0&feature=related
And here's the scientific study and material:
http://cbsu.tc.cornell.edu/ccgr/behaviour/Index.htm
(it should be a real study, including genetic maps)

I personally can hardly understand that effect. Yeah, decreased adrenaline also triggered the same physical changes as on other mammals, but where this tolerance and love for humans came from? There are animals, domesticated, tame or wild, which aren't afraid of us, but doesn't show nearly as much of interest.
For example, a roebuck, which decided to reside in wheat about 20 meters away from my grandma's greenhouse and come to frequently eat her lettuce and beans, even in daylight. Roes aren't tame nor domesticated, they may be accustomed to a sight of humans, but they never approach them. Why are canines different?
Isn't it something in human presence to stimulate a response in animals? Are we more like gods to them? Maybe yes, ancient cultures describes their gods in pretty much the same manner how do we now work with some animals, in good and bad ways. And many animals are obviously obedient. Like, for example, thou shalt not throw that computer off a table, kitty, or your god's wrath and a shoe shall smite upon you.
But I still don't get that thing with adrenaline, it's a response, right? So active friendliness of these animals can't be mistaken with a 'lack of agressive response'. Something had to happen with a brain stimuli, which evaluates a danger and causes the adrenaline to be produced.

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Rings a bell...

I wonder if these are the foxes that were originally domesticated as part of an ethology experiment. The main finding from that study was that pet domestication involves infantilization of the breed, morphologically and behaviourally. I can't recall the names of the researchers, but I believe they were Russian.

Piebald colouration also emerged as an unexpected consequence of breeding for tameness, I now remember. 

I expect a fox would be a canine with cat-like qualities; independent, pouncy, probably more loyal to a single person that everyman's friend. I'd like one too....


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The main thing about these

The main thing about these domesticated foxes is they have a lower level of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the chemical responsible for many different chemical reactions in our bodies but mostly it is responsible for our flight or fight response. This means they aren't as scared of us coupled with a large amount of human contact, I'm not surprised they are friendly with humans. The color variance seems to be due to a connection between levels of adrenaline affecting the levels of melatonin. People often forget we are all creatures of opportunity. There  is a raptor exhibit close to where I live. Now these birds are not tethered during the show. They perform hunting exhibits. What keeps them coming back? Why don't they just fly away?  The answer is they have a stable source of food and don't need to hunt. By making them our pets & entertainment we take the wild out of them. As for why it works better on some animals and not others, it is probably greatly dependent on not only the chemical and genetic make up of the animal but also it's intelligence animal. I'm sure an increased exposure to humans helps too!.

Just my two cents!!
Cheers

Alice

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as a member of the "dog community"

The original goal was to breed foxes that were easier to handle while raising them for their fur.  Pups that better tolerated handling were selectively bred to produce the lower adrenaline, spotted foxes.  The spots were not what the breeders desired as the coats would not be as valuable.  That is probably where some of the financial problems come from.

Early socialization also counts for a great deal.  If you raise a domestic dog from a pup in a puppy mill, or the barn or garage, somewhere away from people, you will be not as pleased with the results as if you raised the pup in the house.  One of the many reasons to skip the pet store dogs - they will never be as friendly and will always have problems with people. 

(Yes, I know there are exceptions, but they are rare.)

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cj wrote:Early socialization

cj wrote:
Early socialization also counts for a great deal. If you raise a domestic dog from a pup in a puppy mill, or the barn or garage, somewhere away from people, you will be not as pleased with the results as if you raised the pup in the house. One of the many reasons to skip the pet store dogs - they will never be as friendly and will always have problems with people.

 

(Yes, I know there are exceptions, but they are rare.)

 

Yah, this is without any doubt. Like 30 years ago, I had a GF who took me to meet some friends. She did not tell me about the game that they play on people who have never visited before.

 

As it happened, they had a doberman who was raised as a pet from puppyhood. By this time, it was fully grown and they always let newcomers step into the house ahead of them. So in I go to the kitchen to be greeted by a doberman running straight for me. It slams into me and pins my shoulders against the wall with it's front paws. And proceeds to say “hello” by licking my face.

 

Yah, they are high strung dogs but they can easily be socialized.

 

I was also once in a minor car accident with a friend and his pet pitbull. That story is not so dramatic as to deserve details but he was a friendly dog at most times but was a freaked out high strung dog at that moment.

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Answers in Gene Simmons

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

I was also once in a minor car accident with a friend and his pet pitbull. That story is not so dramatic as to deserve details but he was a friendly dog at most times but was a freaked out high strung dog at that moment.

 

  I haven't met any dogs socialized at an early age to car accidents!

My husband had two dogs in the back seat of a Civic when he was rear ended by a small pickup.  The trunk of the Civic was rolled up almost on top of the back seat.  Our two dogs were a little nervous about getting back in the car.  But it was drivable - though we got some strange looks.  We drove it to the body shop after the shop was already closed for the evening and just left it in the parking lot.  When we called the next morning, the first words from the shop guy were "Are you all right?"  And we were and the dogs were - not even a scratch.  The Civic was totaled.  And the dogs were all right riding in our other vehicles.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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It's not really that

It's not really that surprising that they managed to domesticate foxes since people, in past years have managed to domesticate all kinds of wild animals that were believed to be untameable(lions, bears, tigers, elephants,wolves). As long as a newborn animal is kept in constant and friendly contact with humans, it can be easily domesticated(although when trying to domesticate large and powerful animals they could kill you just by playing with you). 

 

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Buying

 I want to buy one of the domesticated foxes SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bad!!!! The website sibfox.com is the only place you can buy them unless you can go to Russia and somehow get it back to the U.S. They're really not that expensive they're only a couple grand and that includes vaccinations and the paperwork needed to get it into the country. The only problem i have is my mom. I showed it to her and she agreed that it wasnt too much and that they were cute, but she flatout said "NO!!!! Im not having a wild animal in my house!!!!!!!!" So if anyone knows how to trick a parent into letting me do something like that your advice would be great! Laughing out loud


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jpell wrote: I want to buy

jpell wrote:

 I want to buy one of the domesticated foxes SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bad!!!! The website sibfox.com is the only place you can buy them unless you can go to Russia and somehow get it back to the U.S. They're really not that expensive they're only a couple grand and that includes vaccinations and the paperwork needed to get it into the country. The only problem i have is my mom. I showed it to her and she agreed that it wasnt too much and that they were cute, but she flatout said "NO!!!! Im not having a wild animal in my house!!!!!!!!" So if anyone knows how to trick a parent into letting me do something like that your advice would be great! Laughing out loud

Thanks for the information, they still exist!
As for your mom, I thought the point is, the foxes are domesticated. They are not wild, they lost their wild smell, habits and looks. The website says:


Inside your house, they will snuggle on a bed like a cat.
You can walk your fox on a leash. Foxes can also be trained to use a litter box.  Generally, foxes get along well with dogs and cats and often learn their habits.

So, it's basically something between a dog and cat. If you ever had some, a fox shouldn't be a problem.

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jpell wrote: I want to buy

jpell wrote:

 I want to buy one of the domesticated foxes SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bad!!!! The website sibfox.com is the only place you can buy them unless you can go to Russia and somehow get it back to the U.S. They're really not that expensive they're only a couple grand and that includes vaccinations and the paperwork needed to get it into the country. The only problem i have is my mom. I showed it to her and she agreed that it wasnt too much and that they were cute, but she flatout said "NO!!!! Im not having a wild animal in my house!!!!!!!!" So if anyone knows how to trick a parent into letting me do something like that your advice would be great! Laughing out loud

 

Don't.  Speaking as a rescue person -- don't go there.  Seriously.

Not because they are foxes and may be wild.  Not because you have to ship them in.  Because your mom said no.  The only way bringing a pet into the house will work is if all family members support the decision.  If just one member is against having the new pet - it won't last long.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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cj wrote:Don't.  Speaking

cj wrote:

Don't.  Speaking as a rescue person -- don't go there.  Seriously.

Not because they are foxes and may be wild.  Not because you have to ship them in.  Because your mom said no.  The only way bringing a pet into the house will work is if all family members support the decision.  If just one member is against having the new pet - it won't last long.

Really? It works with cats. I don't like any animals in the house, but the cats ignore my opinion, and so they stay for many years. I just make sure they don't sleep in my bed and don't get hungry or locked up somewhere. Fortunately, the litterbox is cleaned by my younger brother, who loves the cats. Of course, it's necessary that there are at least some people capable of caring for the pet.

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Artificial Selection, not

Artificial Selection, not evolution, Luminon.


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Kapkao wrote:Artificial

Kapkao wrote:

Artificial Selection, not evolution, Luminon.

 

Doesn't matter, Kap.

 

Evolution: a change in the genetic population over time.  Artificial selection is another name for survival of the fittest - just this time it's the human predators that are doing the selecting, not mates or environmental factors or other wild predators.

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It is quite revealing how

It is quite revealing how their physical attributes actually changed, and they were not even breeding them for such a thing..

Makes me wonder, what would happen if they had done the opposite, bred them to be more vicious..just a curiosity..I realize there would be no point other than, a curiosity in what kind of physical changes might take place.

Edit: I was impressed by how they managed to make tame, multi-colored rats over a 100 year period, this was much faster.

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OKAY, I THOUGHT IT WAS SELF-EVIDENT BUT

cj wrote:

Kapkao wrote:

Artificial Selection, not evolution, Luminon.

 

Doesn't matter, Kap.

Evolution: a change in the genetic population over time.  Artificial selection is another name for survival of the fittest - just this time it's the human predators that are doing the selecting, not mates or environmental factors or other wild predators.

Domestication!=Natural Selection

(The crabby old ladies... even they need to be corrected sometimes despite a wealth of life experience. Then again, NOBODY is going to want to correct my paternal grandmother any time soon - despite all her faulty reasoning! Too much paranoia, anxiety, histrionic personality, dementia, and sometimes even racism. )

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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cj wrote:Kapkao

cj wrote:
Kapkao wrote:
Artificial Selection,

not

evolution, Luminon.

Doesn't matter, Kap.

Evolution: a change in the genetic population over time.  Artificial selection is another name for survival of the fittest - just this time it's the human predators that are doing the selecting, not mates or environmental factors or other wild predators.


Thanks. I wonder what would creationists say if someone would take a tame fox on leash to them. I guess they believe that wolf and dog were created as separate species.
Perhaps... "Oh, dinner!"

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I don't think that people

I don't think that people give enough credit to just how adaptable animals can be. I have two Lovebirds that are surprisingly adaptable and they really enjoy trying new foods. I told my local pet shop owner that they enjoy eating fresh rice, mashed potatoes spaghetti, taco chips, bits of bread with butter, steamed broccoli, salad greens and cheddar cheese. He was shocked that they would enjoy anything other that just bird seed.

A friend of mine has a cat that has figured out how to open kitchen cupboard doors to look for the cans of cat food stored there. How long before it figures out how to use a can opener? Eye-wink

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This is really old, but I

This is really old, but I felt the need to reply anyway.  The actually did breed some of the foxes to be vicious, but, at least in the movie I saw, they didn't mention anything about them looking any different than the normal foxes.  Of course they probably didn't breed them as extensively as the nice ones, so who knows..