The Self-Domestication of Humans
Published on Feb 14, 2017
Ron Flannery presentation on the self domestication of humans – Darwin Day 2017 at Red Bank Humanists.
about this series
The domestication of other species has played an undeniably central role in the evolution of modern humans, and in our planetary dominance and success. Researchers have over the years investigated the genetic underpinnings and the anatomical, neural, physiological and behavioral consequences of domestication across a number of animal species but largely independently of each other. Recently, a convergence of views has led to the notion that the study of animal domestication may tell us something not only about our relationship with domesticated species since perhaps at least the Pleistocene, but also about our own evolution as a species in the more distant past. This symposium brings together researchers from a variety of research backgrounds to examine these concepts and to elucidate further the possible role of domestication in human evolution.
UC San Diego’s Robert Kluender provides an excellent introductory overview of this symposium which addresses the study of animal domestication, our relationships with domesticated species, and what that might tell us about our own evolution as a species in the more distant past. Recorded on 10/10/2014.
CARTA: Domestication and Human Evolution – Robert Wayne: The Transformation of Wolf to Dog: History, Traits, and Genetics
CARTA: Domestication and Human Evolution – Anna Kukekova: Fox Domestication and Genetics of Complex Behaviors
CARTA: Domestication and Human Evolution – Robert Franciscus: Craniofacial Feminization in Canine and Human Evolution
CARTA: Domestication and Human Evolution – Philipp Khaitovich: Neotenous Gene Expression in the Developing Human Brain
CARTA: Domestication and Human Evolution – Tecumseh Fitch: The Domestication Syndrome and Neural Crest Cells: A Unifying Hypothesis
CARTA: Domestication and Human Evolution – Kazuo Okanoya: Domestication and Vocal Behavior in Finches
The “Domestication Syndrome” in Mammals: A Unified Explanation Based on Neural Crest Cell Behavior and Genetics
Adam S. Wilkins, Richard W. Wrangham and W. Tecumseh Fitch
GENETICS July 1, 2014 vol. 197 no. 3 795-808; https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.114.165423
Charles Darwin, while trying to devise a general theory of heredity from the observations of animal and plant breeders, discovered that domesticated mammals possess a distinctive and unusual suite of heritable traits not seen in their wild progenitors. Some of these traits also appear in domesticated birds and fish. The origin of Darwin’s “domestication syndrome” has remained a conundrum for more than 140 years. Most explanations focus on particular traits, while neglecting others, or on the possible selective factors involved in domestication rather than the underlying developmental and genetic causes of these traits. Here, we propose that the domestication syndrome results predominantly from mild neural crest cell deficits during embryonic development. Most of the modified traits, both morphological and physiological, can be readily explained as direct consequences of such deficiencies, while other traits are explicable as indirect consequences. We first show how the hypothesis can account for the multiple, apparently unrelated traits of the syndrome and then explore its genetic dimensions and predictions, reviewing the available genetic evidence. The article concludes with a brief discussion of some genetic and developmental questions raised by the idea, along with specific predictions and experimental tests.
Constantina Theofanopoulou, Simone Gastaldon, Thomas O’Rourke, Bridget D. Samuels, Angela Messner, Pedro Tiago Martins, Francesco Delogu, Saleh Alamri, Cedric Boeckx
Published: October 18, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185306
This study identifies and analyzes statistically significant overlaps between selective sweep screens in anatomically modern humans and several domesticated species. The results obtained suggest that (paleo-)genomic data can be exploited to complement the fossil record and support the idea of self-domestication in Homo sapiens, a process that likely intensified as our species populated its niche. Our analysis lends support to attempts to capture the “domestication syndrome” in terms of alterations to certain signaling pathways and cell lineages, such as the neural crest.