Take a look at several domesticated mammal species and you might spot a number of similarities between them, including those cute floppy ears.
Tens of thousands of years ago, humans were wild animals. Our ancestors roamed the land in search of food by day, and huddled together for safety by night. But then something changed. We domesticated ourselves, and this process didn't just change us profoundly — it changed a lot of other life forms around us, too.
Researchers studying a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in China have discovered that wildcats first came to ancient villages to feed on rodents, which were stealing farmers' grains. The research shows, for the first time, how the process of cat domestication started.
We have learned that cats appear to be environmental murderizers. Some people even want to ban them as pets. Let's say we have to do that for the sake of the Earth. What local, replacement pets would make good replacements for domesticated cats? Here are a few good ideas.
From Black Beauty to My Little Pony: Frienship is Magic, humans have an ongoing love affair with horses (and their smaller pony cousins). But not too long ago, the wild creatures that became horses looked considerably different.
We think of dolphins as playful — but they may also be more cunning than we ever realized. A subset of the dolphin population in Laguna, Brazil has started cooperating with human fishing expeditions. The dolphins will help people get better catches, in return for whatever the fisherman discard. They'll drive schools…
If you compare a modern cotton crop with one grown 1,600 years ago, the DNA of the two look almost nothing alike. It's the first known example in domesticated crops of a supercharged evolutionary phenomenon known as punctuated equilibrium.
Cows are quite possibly the most important domesticated animal in human history, providing vast quantities of meat, dairy products, leather, and let's not forget manure for fertilizer. And yet DNA analysis reveals ancient humans almost didn't succeed in domesticating cows at all.
Be warned, this video starts off horribly sad, but it's still a fascinating behavior from one of our primate cousins. Baboons in Saudi Arabia kidnap feral puppies away from their packs, bringing them up in the baboon family.
Bonobos look like tame versions of chimpanzees. They're much less aggressive than chimps, their features are softer and smaller than their cousins, and they famously have sex for pleasure. Basically bonobos are domesticated... except humans had nothing to do with it.
This skull once belonged to somebody's pet, over 33,000 years ago. It's one of the earliest known examples of the domestication of dogs — and it might actually mean modern dogs aren't all related to each other after all.
When we domesticate animals, we alter their evolutionary development to favor the traits that we find most desirable. Usually, that process takes hundreds, even thousands of years. But fish hatcheries can scramble a species' genetics in a single generation.
If man evolved in Africa, where did man's best friend come from? Scientists thought the first dogs came from the Middle East, but a new study of dog genetics suggests they actually come from one small region of modern China.
If you want to see an evolutionary dead end, look no further than the supermarket produce aisle. Every banana you eat is an infertile clone, and its wild ancestors weren't much better when it came to finding new genes.
The world is potentially headed into a serious food crisis, thanks to a combination of climate change, land degradation, and depletion of natural resources. And the solution to all this might mean taking plant species back to before their domestication.
Dogs, sheep, pigs, cows, horses - all these animals and more have been fundamentally changed by humans to make our lives better. Domestication has fundamentally altered the course of human history, reshaping the land and other species to fit our new agricultural lifestyle. But how do you take a wild species and turn…
Over the last 30,000 years, the human brain has decreased about 10% in size. This might seem like proof that we're not as smart as our ancient ancestors, but the truth is a little more complicated than that. Our brains aren't just getting smaller - they're also getting more efficient.