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50 Years of Domesticating Foxes For Science

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the fox-eat-fox-world dept.

Science 347

gamebittk writes "In 1959, Soviet scientist Dmitri Belyaev set out to breed a tamer fox that would be easier for their handlers in the Russian fur industry to work with. Much to the scientist's shock, changes no one had expected emerged after just 10 generations. The foxes began behaving playfully, were smaller in size, and even changed color — much like dogs." Belyaev died in 1985, but the experiment continued (PDF) in his absence, and to this day provides strong evidence to parts of evolutionary theory. The experiment eventually branched out to involve other species as well.

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347 comments

History (-1, Offtopic)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555374)

Soviets actually had long history in experimenting modifying genes and DNA of animals, and in late years this was even minorly expanded to humans. They were really cautious about that, but did experience on things like changing human behavior in brains and trying to give them 'better' abilities (as in from military point of view). Most sad thing about it was that they had camps where they trained 5-6 year old boys to exercise physically and to mentally think without fear of enemy, while learning military tactics and strategies. The most interesting part is that via some limited lobotomy, they managed to remove some feeling of fear and feelings from the subjects. There's a few videos [youtube.com] out of those experiences, this one is taken near Black Sea in 1986 in area whats currently Ukraine.

Never the less, it's always scary when humans play god. Something is going to happen eventually, so should be really careful about it.

Re:History (4, Interesting)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555420)

There's nothing scaring about humans playing "god". Sure, bad things can sometimes be created like the atomic weapon, for instance, but many of those god games result in great advances for the science. Sure, it's easy to cry armageddon for every little investigation we do in science, but, if we don't play god, who will do it then? God?

Re:History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555712)

I once had a Philosophy professor who said someday we will realize we are gods. We're just doing a very bad job of it right now. I will add that the cultural construct of an omnipotent being is useful to kings to keep the population subjugated. Contain their anger until you need an army, then let them vent on the "enemy."

Re:History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555730)

Yeah, this is pretty much nothing. We've been doing this sort of thing for something like 20,000 years.

Re:History (0, Troll)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555772)

the atomic bomb is only a bad thing if used on a massive global scale, say full on global thermo nuclear war. just having them has done great things for mankind. before its invention the number of deaths in war was steadily increasing into the multi-millions of deaths per war. after the invention of nuclear weapons war deaths have dropped dramatically and do not go into the millions let alone multi-millions like they once did. for the most part they stay pretty local and don't escalate into the blood baths of old. i think the best you can do is some of the African Jihads of the 90's and even those didn't hit pre WWII numbers.

look at how the American press freaked out when the death toll hit 3000 in the Iraq war YEARS after the war started. granted that was politically motivated by their hatred of all things Bush, but still the initial planning expected 10,000 death just to take Baghdad. major battles in the pacific during WWII could easily lose 3000 in hours. the Iraq war death total has a lot to do with asymmetrical warfare and not the threat of nukes. however, look at the korean war where there were two near equal opponents with LARGE armies and almost identical battlefield capabilities. that was kept in check by the threat of nukes.

i for one love nukes and the fruits of our scientists efforts.

Re:History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555970)

You'll notice that down-thread there is the inevitable remark that Man is playing God with these foxes; turning them into something they're not, as if it was evil to do so with a fox but not with a dog or cow or cat. Science = Evil. I was suddenly struck by the memory of my Sunday School classes (Catholic) where there were always pictures of Jesus sitting with a group of children of various races-and different animals as well. Not just all people in love, but all things. I suppose if man makes real strides towards such an idyllic world it's very bad. Its portrayal was there in the church only to advertise the belief structure being sold to we children: Peace and Love. But only if you do as we say.

Re:History (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556092)

Not just all people in love, but all things. I suppose if man makes real strides towards such an idyllic world it's very bad.

I think it's a good thing to strive for a peaceful world and a bad thing to create people who can only live in a peaceful world.

Re:History (2, Insightful)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556168)

before its invention the number of deaths in war was steadily increasing into the multi-millions of deaths per war. after the invention of nuclear weapons war deaths have dropped dramatically and do not go into the millions let alone multi-millions like they once did. for the most part they stay pretty local and don't escalate into the blood baths of old.

The major problem with your argument is that it only holds until nuclear bombs start being used. Saving multi-millions in the short term to in the long term kill billions isn't a good investment. The one key argument that has been made about weapons technology as it has progressed has always seemed to be that no one would be crazy enough to use it. Yet, in the end, to start a war in which you know the opponent has mass killing equipment strongly hints that your opponent is crazy and you must use your own mass killing equipment for your protection. With nuclear weapons, self-preservation has translated that into proxy, local wars, so the opponent is never directly a nuclear power. The biggest mistake made so far in this cold war was giving a proxy, Cuba, nuclear weapons and having it in direct conflict with the opponent.

look at how the American press freaked out when the death toll hit 3000 in the Iraq war YEARS after the war started. granted that was politically motivated by their hatred of all things Bush,

No, this was motivated by "if it bleeds, it leads", a very American-centric view of the death count (a lot more than 3000 people died), and a general desire by most humans to not fight in wars for years.

but still the initial planning expected 10,000 death just to take Baghdad.

"initial planning" also considered the threat of chemical weapons. In short, initial planning had a very unrealistic idea of what Iraq had to offer militarily and chose to act when there was still a significant asymmetrical advantage.

major battles in the pacific during WWII could easily lose 3000 in hours. the Iraq war death total has a lot to do with asymmetrical warfare and not the threat of nukes. however, look at the korean war where there were two near equal opponents with LARGE armies and almost identical battlefield capabilities. that was kept in check by the threat of nukes.

At one level, you're right, in that both sides chose to fight a proxy war. But, if they had chosen differently, do you really think we'd still be here today? Every single conflict that arises now that involves directly or indirectly a nuclear power could be the end of most of humanity. If you were a billionaire, would you risk nearly all of your fortune to play a single throw of craps? Would you feel proud or happy to have repeatedly played and never lost but not really gained either?

Perhaps I will judge things differently when a nuclear weapon is finally used on a major city. Only if a nuclear war doesn't start then will I really consider nuclear weapons as humanity's bogeyman, not their self-created downfall.

Re:History (3, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556236)

the atomic bomb is only a bad thing if used on a massive global scale

I've been to Hiroshima: You're full of shit.

look at how the American press freaked out when the death toll hit 3000 in the Iraq war YEARS after the war started.

Documented body count of civilians [iraqbodycount.org]: Around a hundred thousand.

But you, you only count enlisted US military personnel. You don't even count the contractors... you disgust me.

Re:History (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556438)

>>I've been to Hiroshima: You're full of shit.

You probably haven't been to Nanking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre

Re:History (3, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555432)

"Most sad thing about it was that they had camps where they trained 5-6 year old boys to exercise physically and to mentally think without fear of enemy, while learning military tactics and strategies."

[citation needed]

USSR was not nice. But creating zombies? It's just a fantasy. This video might have been taken in Afghanistan or Chechnya, if it's real at all.

Re:History (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555482)

"Most sad thing about it was that they had camps where they trained 5-6 year old boys to exercise physically and to mentally think without fear of enemy, while learning military tactics and strategies."

[citation needed]

USSR was not nice. But creating zombies? It's just a fantasy. This video might have been taken in Afghanistan or Chechnya, if it's real at all.

joke

(YOU ARE HERE)

Re:History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555612)

What's wrong with a little spartan training? In all likelihood, the subjects made up 0.01% of the country's orphans, and I highly doubt the other 99.99% had much superior lives.

Frankly, the only reason USA didn't do the same, or more likely, on a much smaller scale, is the CIA stole the USSR's findings and decided it wasn't cost effective, or government might catch too much heat from population, or some outlandish reason in which the Spartans® were only loyal to themselves, or the group, and never to the state.

Re:History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556154)

I didn't know Chechnya wasn't part of the USSR /sarcasm

Re:History (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555462)

Sooo...when gods play gods it isn't scary? ;p

Besides, something always happens eventually; at least until we are long way off the heat death of the universe.

Re:History (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555476)

"Never the less, it's always scary when humans play god. Something is going to happen eventually, so should be really careful about it."

We are talking about breeding foxes here. Just like breeding dogs/cats/horses/plants, which is done by tens of thousands (hundreds? millions?) of people the world over, and has been for thousands of years.

Re:History (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555782)

The key with domesticated animals is that they don't typically do as well in the wild. If you look at something like American Mustangs that are the runaways they went "native" and are their own unique breed now. You do have some ecology issues, but in the case of the Mustangs, we killed off all the Buffalo all by ourselves.. the horses fill much of the same niche roaming the plains. The biggest problem with domesticated animals is that we people put up fences and displace wild animals over vast areas so the ones we like can live safely. Again, with the wild horses ranchers don't like them even on federal land where they are wildlife because they compete with steers for range.

Playing God (4, Informative)

Potor (658520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555486)

All our science and technology is based on the idea that we can understand, control, and improve nature.

Playing God, in the Xn tradition, is creatio ex nihilo. Tweaking nature - even with catastrophic results - is not playing God.

Re:History (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555880)

GP may be a troll, but is more off topic than anything else. This experiment didn't modify genes or dna. It was simple breeding (in this case domestication through human selection). The results of this study show how quickly animal species can be domesticated and show a potential path for wolves to have been domesticated while living on the fringes of human settlements.

Sopssa said, "Never the less, it's always scary when humans play god. Something is going to happen eventually, so should be really careful about it."
I say "It's always scary when certain humans twist scientific results to push religious agenda. Something is going to happen eventually, so you should really think about it."

Re:History (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556466)

This experiment didn't modify genes or dna.

And this shows the poor understanding of biology as taught today. EVERY generation that comes about via sexual reproduction (probably not applicable to most on slashdot :-) is the product of modified genes and dna. You're not a clone of your great-grand-parents. You don't have the exact same genes.

Cold War Dog Fight Joke (5, Funny)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555916)

Reminds me of the Cold War Dog Fight joke: The Americans and Russians at the height of the arms race realized that if they continued in the usual manner they were going to blow up the whole world. One day they sat down and decided to settle the whole dispute with one dog fight. They'd have five years to breed the best fighting dog in the world and which ever side's dog won would be entitled to dominate the world. The losing side would have to lay down its arms. The Russians found the biggest meanest Doberman and Rottweiler dogs in the world and bred them with the biggest meanest Siberian wolves. They selected only the biggest and strongest puppy from each litter, killed his siblings, and gave him all the milk. They used steroids and trainers and after five years came up with the biggest meanest dog the world had ever seen. Its cage needed steel bars that were five inches thick and nobody could get near it. When the day came for the dog fight, the Americans showed up with a strange animal. It was a nine foot long Dachshund. Everyone felt sorry for the Americans because they knew there was no way that this dog could possibly last ten seconds with the Russian dog.

When the cages were opened up, the Dachshund came out of it's cage and slowly waddled over towards the Russian dog. The Russian dog snarled and leaped out of it's cage and charged the American dachshund. But, when it got close enough to bite the Dachshund's neck, the Dachshund opened it's mouth and consumed the Russian dog in one bite. There was nothing left at all of the Russian dog.

The Russians came up to the Americans shaking their heads in disbelief. 'We don't understand how this could have happened. We had our best people working for five years with the meanest Doberman and Rottweiler in the world and the biggest meanest Siberian wolves." That's nothing", an American replied."We had our best plastic surgeons working for five years to make an alligator look like a Dachshund."

Re:History (2, Funny)

orasio (188021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556102)

Never the less, it's always scary when humans play god. Something is going to happen eventually, so should be really careful about it.

I hate to break this to you, but there's no one left to play god if we don't do it.

Evolution - NOT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555434)

Evolution - Has new genetic information been added? Or has existing information, already within the genome been lost through selective breeding. The latter I think! Foxes still produce after their kind and their offspring are still foxes (albeit with less genetic material than their progenitors)

People really need to learn the difference between Evolution (which is adding new material, through unintelligent, uncontrolled random accidental chance process) and Selective Breeding (which is not evolution, but rather devolution).

Re:Evolution - NOT! (4, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555502)

Selective breeding is evolution but not by natural selection. Exactly same process - i.e. only some survive to pass their genes on to the next generation based on traits. Not sure where you are going with this existing information crap - also no such thing as devolution - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_devolution [wikipedia.org].

Re:Evolution - NOT! (0)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555582)

It seems strange to think of the process as evolution when the traits required for breeding are arbitrary, and in this case even subjective.
One fox tamer than the other? Does simply sticking a gloved hand in a cage determine that so readily?
Is that even a genetic predisposition?
Perhaps the changes observed are just behavioral. Each generation being raised by slightly 'nicer' parents, with the accompanying though unexpected chemical changes manifesting as physical characteristics.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555636)

From the wiki article on evolution "In biology, evolution is change in the genetic material of a population of organisms through successive generations". We tend to automatically associate evolution with natural selection and this causes issues in cases like this. I suspect if the scientists in charge of the experiments where even half competent they would have thought up some effective measure and breed based on this. Learned behaviour vs innate also can be isolated with proper experiment controls (i.e. separate them from their parents or use control population for parents - given more time and expertise you can usually solve most of these kinds of issues).

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556048)

Learned behaviour vs innate also can be isolated with proper experiment controls (i.e. separate them from their parents or use control population for parents - given more time and expertise you can usually solve most of these kinds of issues).

Has anything like that been done?

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556146)

I don't know - that is just something I thought up in 2 mins - I know that a lot of human behavioural studies use genetic twins separated at birth (some of this research is quite interesting - some really specific behavioural quirks appear despite often vastly different upbringing) to distinguish innate vs learned behaviour. I can recommend Steven Pinker - "the blank slate" for an general reader overview of this kind of research in humans. As for animals I can't say I have looked into it much.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556532)

One fox tamer than the other? Does simply sticking a gloved hand in a cage determine that so readily?

If you don't think it's a valid method, why don't you try it with an UN-gloved hand and report back to us? :-)

If you've worked with big dogs (not those little under-100-pound "pretend-dogs"), you'll *know* when you've been bit.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555594)

It's called adaptation.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555656)

Adaptation (when referring to a process) is a process that selects from variation based on some measure of success which over time causes the system to become more successful. Evolution by natural selection (or selective breeding) is an instantiation of this generic adaptation process - so is learning and the scientific method. Evolution by itself is not necessarily adaptive.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555644)

Selective breeding is evolution but not by natural selection. Exactly same process - i.e. only some survive to pass their genes on to the next generation based on traits. Not sure where you are going with this existing information crap - also no such thing as devolution - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_devolution [wikipedia.org].

Why is there this arbitrary labelling of human actions as "unnatural"? It's as if human actions are automatically thought of as inferior to "natural" actions.

Will someone explain why a poison ivy plant is inherently superior to a mailbox?

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555676)

Because its a convenient label to separate human intervening processes from those that are not and not a conspiracy to sleight the rest of the biosphere.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556204)

Because its a convenient label to separate human intervening processes from those that are not and not a conspiracy to sleight the rest of the biosphere.

Whoosh!

WHY separate human actions in the first place?

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556294)

What are you an idiot? Why? Because its fucking convenient. As in to describe shit. You know like when you are talking to someone and you want to indicate that something is a process that is not human intervened. You say its natural. You certainly can be a philosopher and claim (for instance) that all colours are a continuum and labels are misleading but at the end of the day you want to tell someone the colour of something you give them a discrete label and philosophy be damned.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556486)

What are you an idiot? Why? Because its fucking convenient. As in to describe shit. You know like when you are talking to someone and you want to indicate that something is a process that is not human intervened. You say its natural. You certainly can be a philosopher and claim (for instance) that all colours are a continuum and labels are misleading but at the end of the day you want to tell someone the colour of something you give them a discrete label and philosophy be damned.

Wow, ask you to think and you start tossing insults and curse words. You probably think you're smart, too. But when you're asked to explain WHY you do something, you descend into a temper tantrum.

That's not smart, that's childish.

Let's look at your explanation:

Because its fucking convenient. As in to describe shit.

Wow. "We describe it that way, umm, BECAUSE."

You don't even know the basis of your beliefs.

Still relevant to our understanding (3, Insightful)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555528)

If nothing else, this is relevant in so far as illustrating how much behavior and physiology can change by the modification of a single simple and seemingly unrelated hereditary trait.

The long and arduous road of chance modifications to the organisms genome isn't necessary to explain these expressed traits specifically, when these simple modifications can cause entire systems to behave differently. It's whole other way of looking at natural selection.

It's not as though we haven't heard Creationists' arguments hinging upon the expectation that every step in evolution depends on a perfect storm of genetic error...

Re:Still relevant -- not offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555828)

I accidently moderated this offtopic, and cannot undo it. Sorry

Re:Still relevant to our understanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555972)

It's not as though we haven't heard Creationists' arguments hinging upon the expectation that every step in evolution depends on a perfect storm of genetic error...

"Every step"? I think most of them are still waiting to hear about one significant step that has been demonstrated to be through non-artificially-induced genetic error.

Re:Still relevant to our understanding (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556238)

It's not as though we haven't heard Creationists' arguments hinging upon the expectation that every step in evolution depends on a perfect storm of genetic error...

And it makes me laugh every time. What stronger evolutionary pressure could there be than not producing healthy offspring? That's bound to proliferate genes that provide redundancy or abort unviable mutations and provide stability. It's not like every generation must or should be a wild genetic experiment, survial comes first and slight adaptation comes second, mostly climate changes are slow processes too.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555604)

Evolution - Has new genetic information been added? Or has existing information, already within the genome been lost through selective breeding. The latter I think! Foxes still produce after their kind and their offspring are still foxes (albeit with less genetic material than their progenitors)

Information is a rather abstract concept.

The digit "1" ... how much information does that contain? Is it an "on" state? Does it symbolize a single object? Is it being used instead of an "i"? What if we stick a "0" digit beside it... "10" - is that ten? Or just two? Or maybe an "on" state and an "off" state? How much information is contained in those digits? If I move from a binary system to a decimal system, have I created more information? Lost information?

Just because somebody is born with webbed toes doesn't mean they have "more" information in their DNA. It's just being processed and expressed differently.

People really need to learn the difference between Evolution (which is adding new material, through unintelligent, uncontrolled random accidental chance process) and Selective Breeding (which is not evolution, but rather devolution).

Evolution is the process by which various traits and mutations are selected to be passed on to future generations. Typically we talk about "survival of the fittest" where the most beneficial mutations and traits are most likely to be passed on... But that isn't necessarily the case. Plenty of non-negative traits and mutations can be passed on as well.

Selective breeding is simply intelligently-driven evolution. Instead of letting environmental pressures and blind luck select the traits or mutations we want to pass along, human beings do it, by only allowing the right animals to breed.

If you want proof that evolution happens you need look no further than your nearest dog show.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

kappa962 (1583621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555734)

This may be evolution, but it is a type of evolution that even intelligent design people would agree occurs. The idea that comes into my head when I hear the word "evolution" is a process by which life as we know it developed from very, very simple organisms.

The process mentioned in the article is not this. No new genetic information has been added to the gene pool. All that has occurred is that existing genes have been rearranged. You cannot continue the same process and get a cow or an elephant. The way mutations are worked into the gene pool seems, to me, to be the main interesting thing about evolution, and this article has nothing to do that.

Also, now I really want a pet fox.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (4, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555820)

The idea that comes into my head when I hear the word "evolution" is a process by which life as we know it developed from very, very simple organisms.

Well, yes... And then those very, very simple organisms became less simple... And then those less simple organisms became just simple... And then those simple organisms became kind of complex...

Just because an organism is currently fairly complex, doesn't mean evolution has somehow magically stopped. Evolution is happening everywhere, 24/7.

The process mentioned in the article is not this.

Yes it is.

It's being guided by human beings, instead of natural forces... And it's been taking place over a short timeframe... But it's still evolution. The exact same kind of stuff that created all the biodiversity on this planet.

No new genetic information has been added to the gene pool.

Again the "information" word.

If I breed a new kind of fox with black fur, instead of red... Is that new information? Is that more information, or less? What if some fox randomly mutates and is born with neon green fur? Is that new information? More information? Less?

All that has occurred is that existing genes have been rearranged.

Well, but that's kind of the point.

I mean, we've only got the four bases... They can only combine in so many different ways... It's all about the order of the base pairs.

Just like binary - you've only got two digits, it's the order that matters.

You cannot continue the same process and get a cow or an elephant.

Probably not. Not because this isn't evolution, but because those are two very specific and unique species. It would take a hell of a lot of work, and more understanding than we currently have, to turn a fox into an elephant.

But, if we were to keep this up long enough we could very well wind up with an entirely new non-fox species.

The way mutations are worked into the gene pool seems, to me, to be the main interesting thing about evolution, and this article has nothing to do that.

Mutations are essential to biodiversity. They're what introduce new and different things.

Which is specifically why they're avoided and weeded out in selective breeding. With selective breeding you have a specific trait that you are intentionally trying to emphasize. You want to avoid random mutation as much as possible and, to the best of your ability, produce a predictable result.

Also, now I really want a pet fox.

Agreed.

Re:Evolution - NOT! (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556122)

You cannot continue the same process and get a cow or an elephant.

Are you sure? I'd be willing to wager that over a couple of thousand generations or so, with the correct breeding practices, one could create something very Elephant or Cow-like.

Re:Using Brain - NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555622)

... nor any scientific evidence of course.

In evolution there isn't necessarily addition of genes, in most case there is a mutation of existing genes.
In Selective Breeding there is *certainly* no loss of "genetic material", there is simply an artificial selection of genes.
It's guided evolution.

Evolution is not about "getting better", it is just about adapting to the environment around you and breeding better. The individuals that survive and breed the most have more chances of passing down their genes, If the conditions requires it some species may even evolve naturally in being *less* intelligent.

Pick a book that explain evolution for dummies, it's not blasfemy to know how things work in nature, it is blasfemoy not to know how things work, because you commit a sin of arrogance in pretending to know how things work best than nature.

Re:Using Brain - NOT! (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556128)

...you commit a sin of arrogance in pretending to know how things work...

I like to call it "Malicious Ignorance". It is a disease that about 80% of people are afflicted with

Re:Evolution - NOT! (2, Informative)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555892)

Evolution is neither random nor does it "add new material". Evolution is the process by which the genetic makeup of a population changes. Pressure to change can come from selective breeding (with humans guiding which genes are passed along to successive generations) or natural selection (with genes for a preferable trait are passed along more than others). You seem to be mixing up "evolution" with some of those things, as well as mutation.

Cue the master race discussion (-1, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555444)

As I read through the article, blue eyes, fair skin and hair were as indicated as behavior. Correlation and causation discussion aside, I can't help but draw some parallels in human society.

I am trying to avoid presenting this as an argument for racism, but I think it is almost instinctive that darker skinned people are more feared than lighter skinned people. Darker skinned people are viewed as stronger, more healthy while lighter skinned people are viewed as weaker, more sickly. I can't say where the facts are in all of this, but the perception is pretty clear.

And dare I mention the "practical jokes" videos out there all over youtube and similar sites? Am I the only one who noticed that when lighter skinned people are frightened they squeal like little girls while darker skinned people tend to lash out often striking whatever it is that caused a fearful reaction? Are there exceptions to these patterns? Certainly.

And in the articles, it was by selective breeding with these patterns in mind, that these new foxes and rats were created.

I know some people are immediately offended when parallels are drawn between humans and other animals (hell, just by saying "other animals" I am probably making some people angry) but even the most simple observations make some conclusions seem quite obvious to draw.

Re:Cue the master race discussion (3, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555512)

If you are in a white area, white people are viewed as part of the family, whereas black people are "different". I'm pretty sure people in the African jungles view white people as they scary ones, especially the ones who want to chop the jungle down.

Re:Cue the master race discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555894)

If you are in a white area, white people are viewed as part of the family, whereas black people are "different". I'm pretty sure people in the African jungles view white people as they scary ones, especially the ones who want to chop the jungle down.

YOU are the one who thinks 'black people are "different"'. Why the hell do you presume it's "white people" who go to Africa to "chop down the jungle"? Why do you have this utterly ignorant view of Africans as "people in the African jungles"?

Your post drips of condescension: "If the white people would just leave Africa and the (black) Africans alone, the Africans would be so much happier. They'd get to live in their jungles, and the jungles would remain in a pristine state."

Yeah, right.

You're giving Nathan Bedford Forrest a run for the money over which one of you is the most ignorant rascist. Forrest only killed some blacks. You, on the other hand, elevate an entire continent of people as superior because of nothing more than skin color, and denigrate "white people as they scary ones, especially the ones who want to chop the jungle down." Once again, all because of skin color. I presume Forrest's rascist actions were at least behavoir-based, as in he only killed waht he'd call "uppity" blacks and was presumably content with blacks who he would have said "knew their place". Yeah, that's pretty vile and disgusting. But you, on the other hand, have taken rascism even further and dropped individual behavoir completely out of the picture and base your posted rascist views on nothing more than skin color, so in that sense you are MORE rascist than than the founder of the KKK.

Well, except you post that "the [whites] who want to chop the jungle down" are worse.

I've been all over this world, and I can tell you one thing: people are PEOPLE no matter what the color of their skin. And I can tell you the people "chop[ping] down the jungle" are the local Africans or Brazilians of Venezuelan farmers and workers who are just trying to make a living and improve the lot of their families by trhing to give their kids the amenities sheltered twits like you take for granted.

It's YOU who's a RACIST.

Re:Cue the master race discussion (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555910)

It's not that simple either: One man that look real different from yourself: "Oooh, look, fresh genetic material for to help our tribe surivive!" Ten men that look different from you "Aaaaah, they're going to wipe out our tribe!"

Re:Cue the master race discussion (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555584)

Yeah, well, you started it, didn't you? Of course, like all master race discussions, yours appears to start with a couple of false assumptions and goes from there.

"As I read through the article, blue eyes, fair skin and hair were as indicated as behavior."

No, they weren't. Even the short article notes that Belyaev selected foxes based on which ones snapped at him when he offered his hand. Changes in coat colour (similar to those observed in dogs vs. wolves) were noted as a surprising incidental result. The more recent actual paper also linked mentions that those changes are likely a side effect of general changes in the timing of development, and are similar to mechanisms seen in dogs.

"And in the articles, it was by selective breeding with these patterns in mind, that these new foxes and rats were created."

No, it wasn't.

"I am trying to avoid presenting this as an argument for racism, but I think it is almost instinctive that darker skinned people are more feared than lighter skinned people."

All your arguments for this belief are heavily based on what is likely your society of origin, the US, which has and continues to have a very uneven relationship with people who have dark skin.

One sliiiight problem with that idea... (2, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555690)

Vikings.
You know.. those blue-eyed, fair-skinned, fair-haired sissies that have found time to discover America during their break of looting and pillaging across Europe.

Anecdotal evidence such as that might point us to a crazy idea that human beings are not foxes.
That they don't eat like foxes, breed like foxes, live as long as foxes, socialize like foxes or THINK like foxes.

And therein lies the proverbial pudding* - we didn't really evolve that much since we got ourselves these big brainy things that we use for thinking.
You know... that central junction box that does most of our nerve-signal routing, which can control the production and use of hormones in our bodies, besides being used for learning skills and thinking shit up.
In other words - we are a hell of a lot more complex animals then foxes. We have much greater control (and tolerance) over our hormones AND our life circumstances.
Also, we stopped fiddling with evolving our pigmentation back when we discovered clothing. Gave it up completely once we came up with makeup and hair-coloring.

 

*I know how the phrase goes. I've misused it intentionally to piss off grammar-Nazis and culture-trolls.

Re:One sliiiight problem with that idea... (4, Insightful)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555980)

"we didn't really evolve that much since we got ourselves these big brainy things that we use for thinking."

This isn't true, actually. We did evolve, and a lot too (because although not much time has passed, populations are much higher). The thing is, it's not the "evolution" of racial theorists, of bigger brains or better skills. It's mostly resistance to disease, and adaption to more monotonous diets. When you have a population of half a billion, and half of them die from disease and/or malnutrition before reaching maturity, there's a lot of selection pressure, even over a few generations. Especially since we're talking about new diseases (big crowd diseases) and new diets ("high carb"...) that we haven't already spent millions of years adapting to.
(I guess disease and malnutrition is what keeps seagull population stable as well, but there it is in the form it has always been - they're probably pretty well optimized to it already)

Breeding... not evolving (-1, Troll)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556248)

That is breeding - and a rather simple and limited form of it.

If we are to call that evolving, then we may just as well start talking how Australians have evolved to be more resilient to heat and hardship than their British ancestors.
After all, weaker ones have all died out. Right?

Or how about our resistance to common diseases like flu?
"Regular" flu still takes around 500.000 lives each year globally - that is quite a bit for such a common disease.

Untreated, even a common cold can still kill us. That is why we have invented medicine.
And I am not talking penicillin here - I mean the stuff that has been around since we lived in caves. Herbs, teas, ointments and such.
And we didn't become immune to plague or tuberculosis - we came up with a treatment.

Also, we as a species are able to migrate A LOT better than other animals.
That is why a death of half a million annually from flu goes by unnoticed and has little to no effect on improving our immunity as species.
Those 500.000 live all around the globe.
We are not limited to a single location, way of life or a food source - as a species.

That is why there is no such thing as a "pure" human. Or a pure German, American, French, Chinese, negro, Caucasian, Asian...

Re:Cue the master race discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555718)

Human beings are animals. No matter how smart they think they are, they are still governed by their biology. This can been observed throughout nature. Racism is nothing more than a natural biological response to something different.... If humans were truly intelligent, they would have mastered such "feelings" a long time ago but most humans can't see past themselves to make that change. Most humans, despite what you people think, still live like animals, unable to grasp what being a human means. I personally hate humans for what they are and represent. Those of us with intelligence stand apart from the human race, unhindered but such trivial shit as trying to justify racism.... humans are a bunch of dumb fucking animals that will never learn.

Re:Cue the master race discussion (2, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555776)

Some days I would agree with you... We are basically a species evolved to survive challenges that are completely different to the kinds of situations we find ourselves in today - in a word we are somewhat maladapted to the world we have created. In movies and the like you always see a bad outcome to toying with human genes and a purely rational people are seen as almost evil - but I think that we can do a lot better than we are now if we head in that direction.

Re:Cue the master race discussion (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555882)

I think it is almost instinctive that darker skinned people are more feared than lighter skinned people.

Yup, you're racist alright.

Re:Cue the master race discussion (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556140)

Am I the only one who noticed that when lighter skinned people are frightened they squeal like little girls while darker skinned people tend to lash out often striking whatever it is that caused a fearful reaction? Are there exceptions to these patterns?

This is what is called "observation bias". Observations that confirm your expectations and biases are remembered while the observations that don't confirm your expectations and biases are discounted as "exceptions to these patterns". Simply put, another explanation for these differences in reactions (assuming they exist in the first place) is cultural. And even a century ago, the "lighter skinned people" behaved more physically aggressive than they do now.

As an aside, there's nothing about humans that is fundamentally different from foxes in terms of how genetics or biology works. So yes, you probably can breed a variety of behaviors including "tameness" into humans.

A Marine's Story (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555454)

There are two things Marines are always taught

1)To keep your priorities in order

2)Know when to act without hesitation

An atheist professor was teaching a college class and he told the class that he was going to prove that there is no God.

He said, "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!"

Ten minutes went by.

The professor kept taunting God, saying, "Here I am, God. I'm still waiting."

He got down to the last couple of minutes and a Marine just released from active duty, and newly registered in the class, walked up to the professor, hit him full force in the face, and sent him flying from his platform.

The professor struggled up, obviously shaken and yelled, "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?"

The Marine replied, "God was busy, so He sent me."


Unfortunately for the Marine, God didn't give a shit if the professor pressed charges or not, so when the police came to arrest him no force in heaven or Earth interceded. He was processed and put in a cell. While in the cell, he met an atheist hobo who claimed there was no God, so he beat that guy up too. over 9000 other inmates attempted to haul him off the hobo, so he beat them up as well. One of them suffered severe blunt force trauma and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. His bailed was not made and he waited in prison until the day of his trial.

Because of this, the marine was found guilty of four counts of aggravated assault and one count of 2nd degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years time served in state penitentiary, with parole opportunities after 7. Unfortunately, the judge was a well known, avowed atheist so the marine felt compelled to give him a piece of God's mind. The marine leaped onto the defense table and, using his scheming Jew lawyer as a lawn dart, struck the judge in the face. Parole opportunities were revoked.

While in jail the marine found himself very busy fighting anyone who showed the slightest lack of faith in God. Unfortunately, one afternoon in the sixth year of his incarceration, God instructed him to pick a fight with a particularly large man of Hispanic descent and, although he prevailed in the initial conflict, the 27 Latin Kings members who fell upon him following his victory quickly delivered blows sufficient to render him incapacitated.

Because of the severity of his injuries, he was given a bed at the prison hospital. While there, the prison psychiatrist conducted extensive interviews, ultimately determining that the marine was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and late onset schizophrenia. He was immediately put on a extensive array of powerful anti psychotics and anti depressants; all of which he secretly was not taking, because God had told him the medication was from the devil and was being used by heretic Muslims and atheists to sever his ties to the Lord, his God. His condition continued to worsen and he spent more and more time locked in solitary confinement for his disruptive behavior. While there he would cry and scream and pray to the lord for guidance. In turn the lord would fill his eyes with visions of ultimate triumph over evil; the streets of pagan cities, clotted with the thick heart blood of the nonbelievers; abortion clinics fat with flies and the rotting flesh of the defilers; the righteous dancing in the vaulted crypt of the world as the sky turned to red ash and caught fire. He wept with joy as the profound visions filled his soul; the nourishing screams of the nonbelievers as they were dragged down into perdition, filled his ears and echoed in his head like beautiful music.

Unable to attend church in solitary, the marine began to despair. God then gave him the power to transubstantiate anything, so he began tearing great chunks of his own flesh from his body, at which point he would transform them into the body of christ and raise them to his mouth with trembling hands and consume them greedily. Likewise he transformed his blood to that of his savior, so that he could receive sacrament. He truly understood how well loved he was by his creator as he lay in his cell, weak from blood loss, cupped in the hands of a loving God.

Some time later he awoke again in hospital. This time he found he was strapped to the bed with thick leather restraints. He could no longer refuse to take his medication; they were delivering it into his bloodstream with needles. He cursed at them and tried with all his might to break free, imagining himself not unlike Samson. He knew they were all secret atheists and were working against him, working against GOD. But the loss of blood and effects of the medication made him too weak to fight back. So instead he lay there glowering.

Days turned to weeks. As time wore on the voice of god diminished, though never truly left him. Occasionally he could hear far off whispering coming from radio static or the rhythmic humming of the prison buses. It wasn't the same, though. God was no longer in him; he was more like a scent one occasionally catches hanging in the air, or riding on a breeze through the room, before disappearing entirely. His mind was dulled and slow and nothing made sense. Movement was laborious, like the air around him had turned to pudding. He slept more, no longer worked out. Fat replaced his muscle and stubble was upon his chin at all times. Before he was medicated, he had a sense of purpose and clarity that was almost terrifying in its starkness. But now... nothing made any sense. Without god he felt small and confused and alone.

It wasn't so bad, however. In the state mental institution he was moved to shortly after his second release from the hospital he had cigarettes and magazines. The paper was available on Sundays and he had been eligible to take part in the patient work program. He enjoyed working in the garden. Planting made him feel close to the earth and like he was accomplishing something. Most weekdays he sat and watched television in the commons with the other patients. Sometimes god snuck into the tv. Most times not.

Five years into his stay at the institution, God intervened again, in the form of Ronald Reagan. His groundbreaking movement to privatize the mental health industry made it no longer feasible to house patients of staff many asylums and so the marine, having completed his sentence, was released into the world. Without access to medication and therapy he quickly relapsed into psychosis.

Wandering the streets, his head full of divinity, the marine slept in alleyways and preached on street corners, spending what money was given to him on malt liqour. He collected cans and as he did so he sang hymns of his own design and screamed and spat and those the Lord pointed out to him as unbelievers. He came to live beneath an overpass for a time, until the cops chased him and the other squatters away. Eventually, he caught a ride on a departing freight train, getting off at a stop near Austin, Texas.

In Austin he witnessed a great congregation of evil, the likes of which he had never seen in all his travels throughout the Midwest. Queers, idolaters, the vain and the godless; fools and sinners all, ran the town. It was obvious that God had sent him there for a reason. There was much work to be done and he could hardly wait to begin.

That first night there he began preaching on the steps of the public library. God filled his voice with fire and he in turn filled the ears of the passerby's. Most laughed and jeered and moved on; some looked simply uncomfortable at his presence. They were how he knew he had power; his righteously acted as a divine rebuke against them, and they could not bear to look upon a man of god.

One day, months after his successful entrance as a fixture of Austin life, while he was preaching the word to any who would hear he was approached by a couple. They looked young and stylish, in a intentionally shabby way- common elements of what another hobo revealed to him was a subculture calling itself "hipsters". This hobo had gone on to explain that, while he didn't understand what it was they did or believed in, they sometimes gave a lot of change.

"What are you supposed to be," the man said. "Some kind of preacher?"

The marine wasted no time, "I am that which lies beyond in all of us. I speak the truth and so am transformed by the truth I know what I am, I know what you are. I know beyond knowledge and you had better find the lord before he finds you, child!" he said, flecks of spit gathering in his beard. His chest heaved as he labored to catch his breath; it pulled his t shirt up halfway past his belly. He pulled it down with the hand not holding his bible.

The girl laughed at this and lopped her arm through the man's, pulling him closer. "He's really weird."

"Yeah, a regular coco-nut. Man, you're a little crazy, aren't you?"

"I am the only one here sane enough to see, to see, to SEE the dawning of the Lord's wrath! He is with us now; he is judging us, preparing to reveal himself and exercise his GREAT WRATH!"

"Check it out, Marie. He's panting, haha."

"C'mon, let's go. He's a little intense. I think he might be on drugs, or something." The girl tugged at his arm.

"No, wait. Poor guy. He needs help, you know?"

"C'mon Charlie; let's go."

"I said wait, Marie. Jesus. Hold up while I help this guy. Hey, hobo Joe. Hey, look at me!"

The marine met the man's gaze with a fixed stare. God painted thick black lines of corruption over the man's body. He could see how dark and venal this creature truly was.

"Listen, I'm to help you, hobo Joe. See, you're a little wacky in the wicky woo, you know? All this god stuff ain't helping you either. If you wanna get your life straight you have to go get help. And you have to realize there is no such thing as God."

Lightning shot up the marine's spine. This one was placed before him by the divine hand of providence. He remained silent, as he had done before, and waited for the right moment.

"You know what I mean? It's a fairy tale that some people made up to feel better about things and your crazy brain just took it too serious. But there isn't any God."

"There is a God," the marine said quietly.

"No man, there isn't! Listen, God punishes the wicked, right? Well man, biblically speaking, I'm the wickedest man around. Now I'm not a thief or a murderer or none of that, but I sure as shit don't believe in God. To make it worse, I say horrible things about your imaginary God all the time. Not just to friends and family; I have a talk radio program that broadcasts to over 10,000 listeners and I say horrible stuff about your God to them all the time." He pushed a floppy lock of black hair from his brow "and I'm still here."

The marine gritted his teeth and balled up his fists, shaking almost imperceptivity with rage, "You are," he said.

"Right, so shouldn't I be dead right now if the God of that bible you're holding is real and doesn't like to be made fun of? Should he get back at me somehow? He's not, man; I sure as hell live a lot better than you. At least I don't smell like piss and Wild Irish Rose."

The marine was silent.

The man looked up at the sky and continued taunting God, "I'm standing right here, God! Do something to show this man you're real, or he's gonna have to admit you ain't there!"

The Marine waited a few minutes, then when he felt God's presence in him say the word, he stepped forward and grabbed the young man by the hair and swung him in a 140 degree arc, so that when he put him down the man was trapped between the Marine's body and the large stone lions outside the library. His woman screamed his name, but the Marine didn't care. The man curse and tried to fight back, but even with youth and health on his side, he was no match for the brute force of the marine's muscle, long hidden under thick layers of fat. He turned the man around, forced one arm behind his back and with his free hand (the bible had clattered to the ground when he advanced on the atheist) grabbed a thick handful of the sinner's greasy hair. He pulled it back with all his strength, bringing the man's head back with it.

"Ahhh, fuck! What the hell are you doing?" the man said.

He said nothing. The woman began to beat on his back, screaming at him, so he let his back leg out real quick, using a kick they had taught him in the core. He didn't see, but he could hear the greenwood snap of her ankle, the squeal of pain and the thud as she hit the ground.

"You're ffffucking crazy, you"

The Marine cut him short, smashing the man's face as hard as he could against the stone. The first few times, the man struggle back with surprising force, but after the tenth time, he did little more than gurgle, a fair share of his face now smeared across the stone or caved into deeper recesses of the skull. When the Marine was sure he had done all that God wanted him to, he dropped the body and turned to leave.

By now a sizable group had gathered. It was so good to have a congregation, the Marine thought, and he gave the man's corpse a solid kick in the midsection to emphasize the point of his sermon. As the people in the front began to see what he had done the screamed and pushed away against the crowd. The glory of the lord is truly hard to take sometimes, he thought, but we must all bear witness.

The Marine could see the cops pushing through the people now, guns drawn. He knew he wouldn't be taken alive this time. God had made that clear. It was now his job to die a martyr and lead other souls into the glory of the way.

The woman at his feet looked up with tears of rage. "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?" she said.

The Marine replied, "God was busy, so He sent me.

Re:A Marine's Story (1, Offtopic)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555568)

The Marine replied, "God was busy, so He sent me.

That's it? Come on. I take all this time to read this *compelling story* hoping for something profound and you give me the same quote again. Please. For once I am going to burn karma and answer a troll. I don't give a shit about whether one believes in God or not, but I do believe in making the story end well. At least one better ending would have the Marine die, go to heaven with God standing there waiting. "What the fuck marine, I got you a seat in a college course even though your dumb as a brick and you blow it on that line? Get the hell out of here", and thus he sends him back to earth. The marine finally understand Miton.

Seriously, if you take up band width of slashdot with a off topic story, at least have a good ending. Now to find good karma again.

nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555484)

Just look at how we humans are being domesticated. over the last couple of hundred years.

Lessons for Human Evolution (1)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555500)

In this fox experiment, genes determined both behavior and physical appearance. Intelligence is clearly an element of behavior. We should not shy away from the obvious implications for human evolution.

Humankind would necessarily undergo the same sort of evolutionary changes. We can expect differences in behavior among the different races and ethnic groups. Evolution changed both the color of the skin and the type of behavior. Intelligence is one form of behavior.

The belief that all races and all ethnic groups have identical intelligence and identical levels of violent behavior or passive behavior is simply an assumption -- without proof.

Re:Lessons for Human Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555736)

People living close to equator generally have blacker skin. This helps them against the sun. Search images.google.com for "human skin color".

Re:Lessons for Human Evolution (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555738)

While all people are not the same, who gets to decide what features are "important" or "better"? Right now we use the "market" system of allowing all the people to compete as equally as we can so that ability or even luck is the primary decider. As history shows BAD THINGS HAPPEN when somebody starts deciding what are "good" people and what are "extra" people. Yes, it still happens every day, but civilized people have chosen not to do that.

In reality that's how humans have evolved though. We tend to flock together in like groups. If somebody is too "different" they tend to get "pushed" out of that society and in the past migrated and started their own group from hardy people that struggled against the elements on their own. If anything, we're running out of places to go, people that "don't fit" can't exactly hop off the Earth just yet so that will actually slow human evolution. Although we do exchange individuals between nations so that the best of the best often meet around the world creating a new type of "global tribe".

I do think that it would be a clever experiment to try with people. We have about 100 years of good medical data now, where your parents and grandparents still have records on file to use for typing. I think if something like eHarmony was used to match people not just by personality (which is genetic) but also by genetics you could do this and people would probably even be happier with their mates and families. I think the problem is once a "selection" takes place for the next generation, is it really their fault? If you breed some to be workers, then don't provide the task you selected for them, who fixes it? If you selected somebody to be a "worker" versus somebody to be a "businessman" then how do you distribute wealth fairly if you know those people were not "created equal'. And again, you run into the "extra people" problem.

Re:Lessons for Human Evolution (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556074)

In this fox experiment, genes determined both behavior and physical appearance. Intelligence is clearly an element of behavior. We should not shy away from the obvious implications for human evolution.

Humankind would necessarily undergo the same sort of evolutionary changes. We can expect differences in behavior among the different races and ethnic groups. Evolution changed both the color of the skin and the type of behavior. Intelligence is one form of behavior.

The belief that all races and all ethnic groups have identical intelligence and identical levels of violent behavior or passive behavior is simply an assumption -- without proof.

I doubt anybody moderately intelligent would believe that all ethnic groups have "identical intelligence" or "identical levels of violent behavior or passive behavior", considering how not even within the same ethnic group you can find "identical intelligence" or "identical levels of etc", due to the substantial influence of things such as culture, education and personal and communal experience. Differences are indeed easily spotted within the same ethnic group in communities not distant from each other (think "Athens vs Sparta"; north vs south differences can easily be spotted in many countries, or across the border, even though you'd find the same ethnic group in both sides).

Secondly, the experiments show that selecting particular attitudinal aspects results in a secondary selection of particular aesthetic characteristics, but it says nothing about the converse being true too. In other words: if they selected the animals due to some particular (set of) aesthetic characteristics, would they also get a secondary selection on particular attitudinal aspects?

Finally, any form of 'group profiling' serves no actual practical purpose other than stereotyping and fueling discrimination, whose only effect is to render life harder for individuals, giving weight to the stereotyped group characteristics over the actual individual capabilities.

Before asking whether there is an actual correlation between ethnicity (which BTW is a rather fuzzy concept) and behavior, I would ask who is interested in knowing, and most importantlywhy are they interested in knowing.

I consider it rather funny, in a grotesque kind of way, that usually these information is sought after by 'supremacists' looking for a scientific proof of their belief that their group is superior to any other group (either in general, or for some specific objectives or positions, such as world domination or aristogracy). And I find it funny because their "purity" crapola is easily overturned by the simple observation that cross-breeds are most of the times healthier, smarter and stronger.

Two headed foxes (0)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555532)

How soon was it before they decided to graft another head on the foxes? I hear Russian scientists were all into that sort of thing.

Misleading title (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555566)

I was all excited for a second because I thought I'd be reading a story about Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly and everyone else over a Fox News and the attempts to make them somewhat more human.

News? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555574)

Long-discussed and documented - is this news ?

Timothy Treadwell knew about foxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555616)

Anybody who has seen Grizzly Man, the film about Timothy Treadwell's tragic life with the Grizzly bears, knows that foxes can be domesticated. He befriended several wild foxes and can be seen in the film stroking one of them while it sits contented on his tent.

He wasn't so successful with befriending the bears themselves, obviously, but he certainly did well with the foxes.

I wish someone would fund my research into owning a cat or my cousin's cutting edge investigation into petting a hamster. Only another forty years or so and we might reach a vaguely plausible conclusion.

Re:Timothy Treadwell knew about foxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555758)

Religion has taught people there are only two creatures: Those with souls and those without souls. Someday every human, who have souls, will be taken from this world of non-humans and put into their true home. (If they obey the spokespeople...)

Too bad.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555664)

They should've started selling foxes as pets. They probably would be swimming in cash by now if the prices of wild cat-domestic cat hybrids is any indication of how much people are willing to pay for "unusual" pets.

Fur is murder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555800)

Fur is murder

Fur sucks (1, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555838)

Fur sucks. The animals spend their entire lives in cages and are then killed in very pain full ways. Nobody needs fur.

Breeding Sucks (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555858)

I saw a documentary years ago. After the British pulled out of India they abandoned many pedigreed, pure bred dogs to fend for themselves. After a few generations the dogs started to look like dingos or wolves.

Breeding animals sucks.

I have met so many wonderful animals who have so many health problems as the result of breeding.

Just leave the animals alone.

Hippies suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556460)

They spend their lives trying to make everyone else miserable.

cool new pets! (4, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30555902)

I want one! Foxes are cute and smaller than dogs but clever like cats.

If they have bred them to be more behaved they would probably be good house pets for urban dwellers. Foxes are pretty adaptable anyway, living off the scraps of society for a few hundred years already. It's mostly people that keep them out of populated places. That's how man started taming dogs and cats.

Human Breeding of Humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555956)

I recall a Stanford talk back in the mid 90s in which Dawkins asserted in no uncertain terms that there has never been any significant impact on human evolution by human breeding of humans.

Seems a little religious, of him.

It doesn't always work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30555992)

We cats have tamed man for 5000 years and haven't seen any useful changes since then.

Evolutionary Theory (-1, Troll)

hackus (159037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556084)

I think that the statement it proves evolutionary theory is a bit, strong.

The are issues with evolutionary theory, and I think people get confused about certain things like, a species ability to adapt to its environment, is that it fails to explain how a completely different species evolves, number one.

For example, Polar Bears, which yes due to climate change (Man made or otherwise...) are losing their environment, are adapting by interbreeding with Grizzily bears and producing offspring. This is happening because the Polar bears are forced to move south because of lack of Icepak.

Certain ideas about them being seperate species are about to shatter some of the ideas of evolutionary theory, but like a lot of evidence due to climate change, it is being surpressed or just tossed out because it doesn't support the idea species change can only happen in a said species, not by interbreeding between "species".

Secondly, it is not clear even from a biological point of view how a new complex system can arise by random chance, such as developing an entirely different organ for example in a very gradual way. We already know how intricate DNA is, and the instructions to build cellular organs number in the billions of proteins. How all 1 billion of those proteins arose by chance over time is a huge problem for evolutionary proponents. Not just mathematically speaking, but no mechnism in biochemistry has been pointed out so far, that would allow for random variations in biochemisty to produce anything but proteins or instruction which kill the organism outright.

Third and finally, there are certain things about the theory that the laws of thermodynamics seem to be in violation, particularly entropy which states systems move from complexity to simplicity, not the other way around.

Something odd is going on with life, for sure.

As we learn more about life, the case of how life works gets even more odd.

I don't believe in the "religion" of evolutionary theory, and I think it has held back science for a century in making any real progress in the basic questions in biochemistry, which if you do not tow the line your papers don't get published or funded.

But I wish evolutionary "priests" of the science would stop trying to kill "God" and let talented young people with new ideas about how biochemistry works and the mechnisms for change to be done in a more tolerant environment.

-Hack

Re:Evolutionary Theory (3, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556302)

Certain ideas about them being seperate species are about to shatter some of the ideas of evolutionary theory,

How is that an argument against evolution? One of the points of evolution is that there are no clear cut boundaries between species. Sometimes you have animals that are close enough related that they can bread and produce offsprings and sometimes they are not and thus can't. And well, sometimes they are somewhere in the middle and they can only produce infertile offsprings (tiger+lion, mule+horse, etc.).

Secondly, it is not clear even from a biological point of view how a new complex system can arise by random chance

Its not random chance, its the selection process that does the work.

Third and finally, there are certain things about the theory that the laws of thermodynamics seem to be in violation, particularly entropy which states systems move from complexity to simplicity, not the other way around.

Thats only true for closed systems, earth is not a closed system (hint: big glowing day-star is shining plenty of energy on us).

Re:Evolutionary Theory (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556372)

I think that the statement it proves evolutionary theory is a bit, strong.

Indeed, it's just another tick in the very crowded check box of proven. No need to over hype it.

Rest of your post: tl;dr

creationist claptrap (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556450)

Certain ideas about them being seperate species are about to shatter some of the ideas of evolutionary theory

That the borders between species are a little fuzzy is hardly novel.

Third and finally, there are certain things about the theory that the laws of thermodynamics seem to be in violation, particularly entropy which states systems move from complexity to simplicity, not the other way around.

Try drawing the boundaries of the system in the right place. Hint: that hot yellow thing in the sky during the day counts as "in".

Foxxxy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556232)

I want one

Next up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30556308)

If they could make smaller, playful koalas and pandas they would make a fortune.

Not News... Just A Very Old Story Here.... (1)

alfoolio (1385603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556370)

See this 2005 story from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_4240000/newsid_4245900/4245983.stm [bbc.co.uk] or this rehash of the story from 2008: http://jguk.org/2008/02/domestic-tame-pet-fox.html [jguk.org] or the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox [wikipedia.org].

Not News, Not Necessarily for Nerds, Nothing We Need.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Perhaps... (1)

houbou (1097327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30556496)

...since foxes and dogs are canines, the canine race itself tends to be more docile or easier to tame by humans, that could be an explanation for their playfulness. Their instincts are very similar. Face with good treatment, good food, they tend to become more trusting...
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