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HomeSCIENCEWild elephants appear to have been domesticated, but not by humans: Science...

Wild elephants appear to have been domesticated, but not by humans: Science warns -Se

Over thousands of years, a species of animal that shared a close relationship with wolves slowly evolved into something that loves to curl up in your lap, rub your belly, and eat kibble three times a day.

These changes in the dog weren’t just behavioral. In fact, changes in body plan—such as shorter snouts, floppy ears, more expressive faces, less body hair, and prolonged infancy—are common to many domesticated animals.

An international team of researchers has now noted that similar traits exist in elephant populations, prompting the question of who or what domesticated them.

The answer the researchers gave sounded surprising: elephants may have domesticated themselves.

At a basic level, domestication is the process of artificially selecting representatives from each generation of animals (or plants) that are best suited for human habitation. Number one on that list has to be ‘well played’. No one wants to fight a large, hairy mammal for its milk or risk their eyes for a fried egg in the morning.

While many common traits may not have been deliberately selected, some genes go hand-in-hand with them to give many animals a slimmer, less threatening appearance, for a docile companion. said’domesticated syndrome‘, the collection of traits that go with calm, intelligent and content animals may not help them in the wild, but it certainly makes them more suitable for human society.

Back in 2017Duke University anthropologist Brian Hare took the concept of domestication syndrome a step further, speculating whether it might apply to us humans as well.

If we can choose dogs, sheep, pigs, and baby cows based on their temperament and attractiveness, why couldn’t we do it ourselves?

Known as the human self-domestication hypothesis, it posits that our evolution was increasingly driven from the Middle to Paleolithic by a preference for less-aggressive, more-social partners.

As a result, the pressure on our ability to communicate is increased by facilitating complex language skills. Changes in how our brains work can affect the size and shape of our skulls, not unlike how the skulls of domesticated animals have changed.

We may not be the only primates who have experienced this preference for a more peaceful, expressive path than a violent existence. Hare is our closest relative, the bonobo (Pan Paniscus), as a candidate for self-domestication based on the species’ claim of lack of aggression compared to its other closely related chimpanzees.

Now African and Asian elephants are being singled out as two new examples of self-domestication, which arguably went through the same selection process as humans and bonobos.

The authors of this new study provide an extensive laundry list of similarities between the groups that serve as evidence of shared domestication processes. For example, in all three cases, the shape of the jaw and forehead has changed, the jaw has become shorter or the skull has become less elongated, and the number of teeth has decreased.

Behaviorally, while peaceful interactions tend to occur, examples of aggression tend to be proactive rather than reactive. Children of all species engage in social and non-social play that often facilitates socialization and bonding. There is also significant evidence of ‘alloparenting’, where children are guided and cared for by adults who are not their direct ancestors.

The team conducted a review of hundreds of genes hypothesized to be involved in changes in embryonic tissue thought to be responsible for domestication, finding some evidence that evolution has supported at least a dozen such sequences in elephants.

The examples given may just be cherry-picking what is appropriate. For example, other animals that have been domesticated have evolved into species with floppy ears and curly tails.

Researchers to argue “Domesticated species typically do not show the full suite of traits associated with domestication,” because blocks of different traits can become fragmented and no longer selected for. That means elephants are less likely to lose the structures already developed within their ears, given how effective they are for thermoregulation.

The extent to which the three species of elephants may or may not take the evolutionary road to social, domestic ‘happiness’ depends largely on whether the hypothesis itself makes a good theory capable of explaining why certain social traits are commonly found. different species.

If so, we might find other animals along the domestication continuum. Dolphins, perhaps, or different species of birds or rodents, may also undergo similar changes that favor a degree of social complexity greater than that of Brown and Fury.

Once seen as an exclusive quality of humanity, the tendency to prioritize peaceful orientation, complex emotional expression, and general love for one another may be an option for many social creatures.

Like many traits that once defined our species, humans have simply taken domestication to the next level.

This study was published PNAS.



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