Quote of the day


…[T]he principal who, faced with two children who were caught fighting on the playground, sternly says: “It doesn’t matter who started the fight, it only matters who ends it.” Of course it matters who started the fight. The principal may not have access to good information about this critical fact, but if so, he should say so, not dismiss the importance of who threw the first punch. Let a parent try punching the principal, and we’ll see how far “It doesn’t matter who started it” gets in front of a judge. But to adults it is just inconvenient that children fight, and it matters not at all to their convenience which child started it, it is only convenient that the fight end as rapidly as possible.

Pretending to be Wise I love this. This lesson has much to teach us about international relations.”

Floppy ears are probably genetically linked to friendliness


Early in the process of domestication, Belyaev noted, most domestic animals had undergone the same basic morphological and physiological changes. Their bodies changed in size and proportions, leading to the appearance of dwarf and giant breeds. The normal pattern of coat color that had evolved as camouflage in the wild altered as well. Many domesticated animals are piebald, completely lacking pigmentation in specific body areas. Hair turned wavy or curly, as it has done in Astrakhan sheep, poodles, domestic donkeys, horses, pigs, goats and even laboratory mice and guinea pigs. Some animals’ hair also became longer (Angora type) or shorter (rex type). Tails changed, too. Many breeds of dogs and pigs carry their tails curled up in a circle or semicircle. Some dogs, cats and sheep have short tails resulting from a decrease in the number of tail vertebrae. Ears became floppy. As Darwin noted in chapter 1 of On the Origin of Species, “not a single domestic animal can be named which has not in some country drooping ears” – a feature not found in any wild animal except the elephant. Another major evolutionary consequence of domestication is loss of the seasonal rhythm of reproduction. Most wild animals in middle latitudes are genetically programmed to mate once a year, during mating seasons cued by changes in daylight. Domestic animals at the same latitudes, however, now can mate and bear young more than once a year and in any season.

The domestication of the russian silver fox. (40 year fast track evolution) The amazing story of the silver fox and Dmitry K. Belyaev, which provided evidence that simply selecting for friendliness could create many of the common features of domesticated animals. I first read an astonishing article about this as an undergraduate, but I haven’t been able to find it since. I wonder if this is it. Thanks to Shepherd either way. Update: Checking out the article with pictures, I’m now pretty sure that this was the article Early Canid Domestication: The Farm-Fox Experiment