Re: Why Not a Planet Of The Apes?

Dan Hook (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 19:47:42 -0400

I had heard of an attempt to domesticate a certain type of fox (silver?)
because its fur was so highly prized. The process used was to breed the
animals that tolerated the shortest distance between them and a human being
before running. They were domesticated, in that they were friendly to
people. The problem is domesticity and coat color were linked so the
project turned out a useless result. I would guess that this is a result
of keeping the fox in a semi-juvenile stage. The same was done in the
domestication of wolves.

Dan Hook
> From: Robin Hanson <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: Why Not a Planet Of The Apes?
> Date: Tuesday, June 10, 1997 5:41 PM
> Carl Feynman writes:
> >>we don't really know it takes [300 yrs], ... new high tech might help
> >
> >I think we do know it takes that long, if not many times longer. All
> >really useful domesticated species I know of have been the object of
> >deliberate breeding for at least five hundred years. . Two cases
> >where I might be wrong are carp, turkeys ... a counterexample ...
> >lab rats and white mice have both been domesticated in the last
> >century. ... these species have very short generation times. So ...
> >no species has been domesticated in less than 500 generations. Here
> >my definition of 'domesticated' is that I would walk through a paddock
> >occupied by several of them, that I didn't know personally, without
> >being worried.
> Again, you may be right, but this seems to be just speculation. We
> don't know how long it took to reach your (reasonable) definition of
> domestication, nor how many individuals (both humans and others) were
> involved in the effort. I understand that "scientific" breeding in
> modern farms has improved greatly over older intuitive breeding. And
> it stands to reason that great further improvements will be possible
> when we can cheaply read out the entire genome of each individual in a
> breeding program, match them with detailed behavioral data, and
> even splice together desired trial genomes.
> Robin D. Hanson