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
Want to Know More?
Everything You Know Is Wrong
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...