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Domestication syndrome

Today I learned about the domestication syndrome, which describes the visual changes one can observe when comparing wild animals with domesticated animals from the same species. Like wolfs compared to dogs. It describes that as part of the domestication process usually certain attributes, like the shape of the nose, the floppiness of the ears and the colour of the fur changes. Discovered by Charles Darwin, it is still not fully understood or even proven that it actually exists, but there is work going on to explain it. A paper from July 2014 links the attributes to so-called “Neural Crest Cell” which are also in charge of regulating the adrenalin and therefore the aggression level of mammals.

I came across this as part of learning some more about foxes. Especially about first attempts to have domesticated foxes, which was based on a Russian experiment to domesticate foxes in order to understand the process wolves and dogs went through. As part of that I came across a video by the NPR science department, which talked about the domestication syndrome in more detail.