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Fox experiment is replaying domestication in fast-forward

New book recounts nearly 60-year effort to understand taming process

By
8:00am, April 29, 2017
wild silver fox

DOMESTICATION IN ACTION  How to Tame a Fox tells the story of a long-running experiment to domesticate silver foxes (a wild silver fox is shown).

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)
Lee Alan Dugatkin
and Lyudmila Trut
Univ. of Chicago, $26

In 1959, Lyudmila Trut rode trains through Siberia to visit fox farms. She wasn’t looking for furs. She needed a farm to host an audacious experiment dreamed up by geneticist Dmitry Belyaev: to create a domestic animal as docile as a dog from aggressive, wily silver foxes.

Evolutionary biologist Lee Alan Dugatkin helps Trut recount this ongoing attempt to replay domestication in How to Tame a Fox. The mechanics of domestication are still a matter of intense scientific debate. Belyaev’s idea was that ancient humans picked wolves and other animals for docility and that this artificial selection jump-started an

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