Years 7 to 10
Beginning over 10,000 years ago with the dog, animal domestication has been a crucial step in the development of human societies. From the horse to the chicken, the elephant to the bee, domestication has taken place independently on every continent, altering the evolutionary path of many animal species as well as our own environment. Where did it all start? What was the main purpose? How was it done?
Broadly speaking, we could define a domesticated animal as one ‘which, bred from generation to generation under human supervision, has evolved into a distinct species, or at least a breed, different from the primitive wild form from which it came’ (René Thévenin). This definition is true of species which have passed through a very long and complex domestication process (such as the dog, cow, pig), but not valid for those species which, while considered domesticated in the general sense, have not been greatly modified.
Even if the domestication process is difficult to identify for every species, it started by taking members of the wild population away from their natural habitat to live in contact with humans to form a founding group which is not necessarily representative of the group as observed in the wild population.
Over generations, this isolated population will undergo a micro-evolution by adapting to the new conditions and by virtue of human selection.
It is marked by the appearance of domestic traits, i.e. new characteristics interpreted as genetic mutations which are preserved or even selected while the alleles carrying them would have remained rare or been eliminated through natural selection in the wild.
With reference to a slideshow and osteological pieces, the facilitator will answer questions based on the morphological, physiological and behavioural changes seen in domesticated animals compared with their wild counterparts.
- Explain the benefits of domestication
- Compare the morphological and anatomical characteristics of wild and domesticated species
- Assess humankind’s impact on the environment
- Improve writing and oral skills
During the workshop, the facilitator will refer to osteological pieces from the Museum of Bordeaux collections and a slideshow featuring the main domesticated species and the key stages of their domestication.
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