Why So Many Domesticated Mammals Have Floppy Ears

Take a look at several domesticated mammal species and you might spot a number of similarities between them, including those cute floppy ears. » 7/17/14 3:20pm 7/17/14 3:20pm

7 Signs That Humans Are Domestic Animals

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. » 6/05/14 10:00am 6/05/14 10:00am

The Mysterious Origins of Cat Domestication in China

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. » 12/16/13 12:00pm 12/16/13 12:00pm

When cats are outlawed, what animals should replace them as pets?

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. » 2/21/13 1:00pm 2/21/13 1:00pm

How long ago did we finish domesticating horses?

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. » 5/09/12 12:40pm 5/09/12 12:40pm

Friendly dolphins help Brazilian fishermen to catch fish

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… » 5/04/12 6:30am 5/04/12 6:30am

This ancient Egyptian crop rewrote its genome virtually overnight

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. » 4/03/12 7:55am 4/03/12 7:55am

DNA reveals that cows were almost impossible to domesticate

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. » 3/28/12 11:17am 3/28/12 11:17am

Baboons kidnap puppies and raise them as their own

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. » 3/17/12 1:00pm 3/17/12 1:00pm

Bonobos may have actually domesticated themselves

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. » 1/25/12 4:30pm 1/25/12 4:30pm

33,000 year old dog skull discovered in Siberian cave

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. » 1/23/12 5:00pm 1/23/12 5:00pm

Fish hatcheries super-charge the speed of evolution

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. » 12/19/11 2:30pm 12/19/11 2:30pm

All dogs originated in one tiny part of East Asia

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. » 11/27/11 10:30am 11/27/11 10:30am

Bananas have been hopelessly inbred clones for the last 7,000 years

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. » 7/06/11 1:13pm 7/06/11 1:13pm

Feeding the world might require undoing 10,000 years of plant…

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. » 4/26/11 4:10pm 4/26/11 4:10pm

Why some animals can never be domesticated

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… » 2/09/11 1:48pm 2/09/11 1:48pm

Our brains are shrinking...and why this actually means we're getting…

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. » 2/06/11 9:00am 2/06/11 9:00am