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Unread February 24th, 2010, 01:52 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Arrow Genomic Imprinting? Moscow Strays

"'Moscow's strays sit somewhere between house pets and wolves, says Poyarkov, but are in the early stages of the shift from the domesticated back towards the wild. That said, there seems little chance of reversing this process. It is virtually impossible to domesticate a stray: many cannot stand being confined indoors.'

"'Genetically, wolves and dogs are almost identical,' says Poyarkov. 'What has changed significantly [with domestication] is a range of hormonal and behavioural parameters, because of the brutal natural selection that eliminated many aggressive animals.' He recounts the work of Soviet biologist Dmitri Belyaev, exiled from Moscow in 1948 during the Stalin years for a commitment to classical genetics that ran counter to state scientific doctrine of the time.

"Under the guise of studying animal physiology, Belyaev set up a Russian silver fox research centre in Novosibirsk, setting out to test his theory that the most important selected characteristic for the domestication of dogs was a lack of aggression. He began to select foxes that showed the least fear of humans and bred them. After 10-15 years, the foxes he bred showed affection to their keepers, even licking them. They barked, had floppy ears and wagged their tails. They also developed spotted coats – a surprising development that was connected with a decrease in their levels of adrenaline, which shares a biochemical pathway with melanin and controls *pigment production.

"'With stray dogs, we're witnessing a move backwards,' explains Poyarkov. 'That is, to a wilder and less domesticated state, to a more 'natural' state.' As if to prove his point, strays do not have spotted coats, they rarely wag their tails and are wary of humans, showing no signs of *affection towards them.'"

Http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/628a8500-f...44feab49a.html
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