from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
The RavensSaturday, 18th April 2015 23:05 - BBC World Service RadioA social work student brefriends a sex worker in Sydney - but how easy is changing a life? The second of two... Read more: The Ravens: 24th International Radio Playwriting Competition winner
The RavensSunday, 19th April 2015 04:05 - BBC World Service Radio
Thinking Allowed: The Ethnography Award 'Shortlist' 2015Monday, 20th April 2015 00:15 - BBC Radio 4
Secret History Of... Deptford High StTuesday, 21st April 2015 20:00 - BBC Four
A History of Ideas - Descartes Cogito Ergo SumAvailable until Thursday, 14th April 2016 08:30Stephen Fry explains Rene Descartes argument 'Cogito Ergo Sum' - 'I think, therefore I am'. Watch now: OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Descartes Cogito Ergo Sum
A History of Ideas - Erving Goffman's Performed SelfAvailable until Thursday, 14th April 2016 08:15
Thinking Allowed: The Ethnography Award 'Shortlist' 2015Available until Friday, 15th April 2016 09:45
A History of Ideas - John Locke and personal memoryAvailable until Thursday, 14th April 2016 11:15
What does it mean to be me?Watch these short and snappy animations on the subject of me: the individual, memory, 'self' and... Watch now: What does it mean to be me?
The Election Debate Visualisation ProjectEven though social media is thoroughly embedded in voters’ culture we have yet to come up with an... Read more: The Election Debate Visualisation Project
Introduction to bookkeeping and accountingThis free course Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting provides an introduction to the... Try: Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting now
Succeed with maths – Part 1[BETA] If you feel that maths is a mystery that you want to unravel then this short 8-week course... Try: Succeed with maths – Part 1 now
Evolution: artificial selection and domestication
In the 18th and 19th century evolutionary biologists, including Darwin, emphasised the...
In the 18th and 19th century evolutionary biologists, including Darwin, emphasised the similarities between natural evolution and artificial ‘ improvement’ of livestock under domestication. They believed that studying domesticated animals and plants could illuminate the mechanisms of natural evolution.
When you have completed this unit you should be able to:
- define the terms ‘artificial selection’ and ‘domestication’ and explain the relationship between artificial and natural selection;
- describe some forms of dwarfism in modern breeds of dogs and explain their relationship to dwarfism in humans and in modern and extinct wild mammals;
- describe some features of the skin, fur, feathers and the shape of the head frequently observed in domesticated livestock;
- outline some major conclusions emerging from the sequencing of the dog genome and outline some current theories about when and where dogs were domesticated;
- explain the functional basis of some of the anatomical changes induced by selective breeding of some modern dog breeds;
- describe experimental domestication in foxes and explain its relevance to the origin of anatomical and behavioural characteristics in modern breeds of dogs and other livestock;
- measure some anatomical changes induced by selective breeding of bulldogs during the last hundred years and use the data to assess functionality and rates of evolutionary change.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Phenotypes and genotypes
- 2 Phenotypic change under domestication
- 3 Domesticated dogs
- 4 Experimental study of evolution and domestication
- 5 Summary
Evolution: artificial selection and domestication
Most contemporary evolutionary biologists study evolution experimentally using laboratory organisms such as Drosophila or natural systems in the wild. However, 18th and 19th century evolutionary biologists, including Darwin, emphasised the similarities between natural evolution and artificial ‘ improvement’ of livestock under domestication. They believed that studying domesticated animals and plants could illuminate the mechanisms of natural evolution. Indeed, Chapter 1 of On the Origin of Species… is entitled ‘Variation under domestication’. Recent discoveries reveal the relationship between natural evolutionary mechanisms and the practical technologies used to breed plants, animals, yeasts and, these days, microbes, to produce food, clothing, transport, companionship, decoration, entertainment and most recently medicines. This unit is mostly about mammals, particularly dogs and other domesticated livestock, but the basic principles are probably universal. Dogs and other livestock are so familiar that we hope that you will take the opportunity to observe the characters, habits and processes described in this unit in animals that you see around you.
This unit is an adapted extract from the course.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Natural History course units or view the range of currently available OU Natural History courses.