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First Civilization (slideshow)

Domestication (slideshow)

Domesticated Plants

Domesticated Animals


Domesticated Animals
Animal domestication followed a pattern of development that extended 10,000 to 5,000 years ago. It started in the Fertile Crescent of modern Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon,  with the "big four" of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, among other animals. Later, in the Far East, came ducks, chickens and water buffalo, among others. Later still, in the New World, came llamas and vicuna.

This process was not simplified by expanding the number of chromosomes, as occurred during domestication of some plants. All animals--wild and domesticated--are diploid, which means they have two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent. The chromosome number varies as widely as in plants (humans have 46), but there are always only two sets (humans have 23 in each).

The only "tools" available to Neolithic herdsmen were those available to farming kinsmen: time and patience. By the same crossbreeding techniques apparently utilised by farmers, wild animals were selectively bred for generation after generation until enough gradual modifications accumulated to create domesticated versions of wild ancestors. As with plants, this process required anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years in each case, and was also accomplished dozens of times in widely separated areas around the globe.

Once again, we face the problem of trying to imagine those first herdsmen with enough vision to imagine a "final model," to start the breeding process during their own lifetimes and to have it carried out over centuries until the final model was achieved. This was much trickier than simply figuring out which animals had a strong pack or herding instinct that would eventually allow humans to take over as "leaders" of the herd or pack. For example, it took unbridled courage to decide to bring a wolf cub into a campsite with the intention of teaching it to kill and eat selectively and to earn its keep by barking at intruders (adult wolves rarely bark). And who could look at the massive, fearsome, ill-tempered aurochs and visualise a much smaller, much more amiable cow? Even if somebody could have visualised it, how could they have hoped to accomplish it? An aurochs calf (or a wolf cub, for that matter), carefully and lovingly raised by human "parents", would still grow up to be a full-bodied adult with hardwired adult instincts.

However it was done, it wasn't by crossbreeding. Entire suites of genes must be modified to change the physical characteristics of animals. (In an interesting counterpoint to wild and domesticated plants, domesticated animals are usually smaller than their wild progenitors.) But with animals, something ineffable must be changed to alter their basic natures from wild to docile. To accomplish it remains beyond modern abilities, so attributing such capacity to Neolithic humans is an insult to our intelligence.

Want to Know More?

Everything You Know Is Wrong
Lloyd Pye's seminal text on Intervention Theory discusses all of these concepts in much greater detail, and piles on an overwhelming body of evidence for alien intervention into Earth, the origins of life, the origins of humans, megaliths, and the domestication of plants and animals... more >


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