1 Tahrcountry Musings: The Science behind the Taming of Animals

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Science behind the Taming of Animals

All of us have at some time or other wondered why some animals are easy to tame while others are difficult if not impossible to tame. Here come answers to the riddle from the scientists.

In a path breaking research a team of scientists from Germany, Russia and Sweden have discovered a set of genetic regions responsible for animal tameness. Most delighted would be animal breeders, farmers, zoologists, and anyone else who handles and raises animals. For them this will be a blessing indeed. This can also be used as a way to produce tame animals.

Frank Albert, a scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and the first author of the research is all excited about the prospects the new research offers. He says "Maybe we would be able to domesticate a few of those species where humans have historically not been successful like the wild African Buffalo." The study will lead to a detailed understanding of the genetics and biology of tameness.

The roots of this study date back to 1972 when researchers in Novosibirsk, USSR (now Russia) caught a group of rats in the wilderness around the city. Some of the rats were aggressive while others were tame. The scientists mated the tame with the aggressive rats and identified regions in the rat genome that cause a rat to be tamer or more aggressive.

End result of this research is that it offers clues about how genomes can be manipulated to breed tame animals of species once believed to be untamable.

The details are published in the June 2009 issue of the journal Genetics


1. Albert et al. Genetic Architecture of Tameness in a Rat Model of Animal Domestication. Genetics, 2009; 182 (2): 541 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.109.102186

No comments: