Domestic chanterelles from Novosibirsk: how scientists tamed foxes in just 50 years
Is it possible to tame foxes? And how much time will it take? The answers to these questions are known to the nursery staff at the Novosibirsk Institute of Cytology and Genetics, which have been breeding domestic foxes for over 60 years.
An unusual experiment led by academician D.K. Belyaev began in the distant 1959. Then, for breeding in captivity, 130 of the most fox-loving individuals of the species ordinary fox were selected. Selection was carried out in only one direction - the degree of obedience and friendliness in relation to the person. As a result of painstaking work for decades in the nursery of the institute, domestic foxes were bred that did not show aggression to humans, felt the joy of communication and a sense of affection. But the most striking thing is not that scientists managed to breed domestic foxes in just 40-50 years, but the fact that these individuals differ genetically from their counterparts living in the wild.
This was revealed as a result of a partial decoding of the genome of domesticated foxes, which was compared with the genome of wild relatives. It turned out that domestic chanterelles have a specific mutation of one of the genes, which is absent in wild species. It is this mutation that is responsible for the friendly attitude to the person and obedience. Moreover, it is present only in the most loyal to humans individuals. In addition, it was noted that domestic chanterelles are more friendly not only to humans, but also to their relatives. In general, their behavior is very similar to dogs. They also love stroking and touching, wagging their tail, bouncing, licking their hands, in a word, showing all kinds of positive emotions from the presence of a person. But they are a little more independent in their behavior, which makes them similar to domestic cats.
Interestingly, domestication was reflected in the appearance. There was a change in eye color - blue-eyed individuals began to be found among domestic foxes. In addition, sometimes chanterelles with drooping ears appear, and white spots are present on their skin.