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Physical Anthropology The study of the physical characteristics, variability and evolution of human races and sub-races.

Minimum IQ for Farming and Agriculture?

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Old Tuesday, March 28th, 2017   #11
The Horned God
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Originally Posted by Catterick View Post
It was not Diamond's observation but Francis Galton's followed by mammalogist Clutton-Brock's.
I didn't say it was his observation, just that he popularised the idea. Several people I've met parrot the notion of Africa's lack of domesticable animals after reading G,G&S.

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It does look like zebras lost some potential for tameability in their evolutionary history but in any case Clutton-Brock noticed psychological/behavioural traits marking out zebras and some other anmals as less domesticable than the ancestors of domestic relatives by their absence. They have a less predictable nature and tendency to panic under stress. This instability is even shown to other herbivores in zoo collections whilst with the wild horses and asses this is not the case.
Anyone who has any experience of horses knows that they are all liable to panic under stress. And it often doesn't take much "stress" at all to set them off. A plastic bag flapping in the wind could be enough to do it and cause a horse to panic and try to throw its rider. A lot depends on the temperament of the individual horse in question.


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In safari parks and similar exhibits they have to be kept away from any breeding animals because they are senselessly violent. At Knowsley an oryx killed a zebra because the zebra tried to kill the baby oryx - for no reason.
Thoroughbred stallions can be extremely aggressive as well, that doesn't mean that they cannot be controlled by a skilled handler. As I say with horses a lot depends on the temperament of the individual horse including how it is raised and socialised.I suspect the zebra in your example was never socialised to Oryx. A domestic dog is liable to behave in a similar manner towards sheep, but that never prevented huskies from being used to pull sleds, for example.

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Equipment used in horse taming and domestication is imitative of that used on bovids. Still how long have cattle and small ruminant hoofstock been known in Africa - long enough to be imitated, no?
Really? One bright individual might have gotten the idea immediately, it seems to me. What is a zebra really but a cow without horns? In fact in many ways the zebra is a less dangerous animal than a domestic bull, a creature responsible for dozens of deaths and injuries every year. No, in my opinion the failure to domesticate the zebra was mainly due not to a lack of having the correct tools for the job, but to a lack of inspiration of those in possession of those tools.

Experiments on foxes, at least as vicious an animal as the zebra I think most people would agree, show that they can can be domesticated in less than a human liftime by selective breeding.

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More than fifty years ago, Russian scientists began an experiment in domestication. At that time, silver foxes had been raised for fur for about 100 years already, so their care and breeding was well known. The scientists began their project like this: they would approach the cage of a silver fox and note its response. The fox would crouch, ears flattened, snarling in fear, or else back away as far as it could until its body was vertical against the back wall of the cage. All of the foxes were frightened of the humans—but some less than others. The scientists chose the foxes that showed the least fear of humans, and bred them. Then they did the same with the pups, raising up and breeding the least-frightened of them; and so on and so on.
All it would have taken for africans to domesticate the zebra, it seems to me, would have been for one likely individual to corral a couple of pregnant females and breed from those offspring that showed the least fear of humans and repeat with each successive generation. Then hey presto within a few decades he would have created a beast of burden that is immune to the tsetse fly! It never happened because no one ever thought of doing it.
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Old Friday, April 21st, 2017   #12
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Regarding foxes, a while back there was an article in the Daily Mail about an orphaned fox taken in by some family (it was very young) and brought up alongside their dogs. The fox basically thought it was a dog, even trying to bark like one.
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Old Friday, April 21st, 2017   #13
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Regarding foxes, a while back there was an article in the Daily Mail about an orphaned fox taken in by some family (it was very young) and brought up alongside their dogs. The fox basically thought it was a dog, even trying to bark like one.
Well, yes. That's how most cat and dog species become domesticated. As with the fox experiments, though, developing a domestic line involves breeding those individuals who show the best affinity for humans. Once you get a domesticated breeding pair, especially a domesticated mother, the young can become socialized to people just like the common cat and dog. There will always be individual animals who are friendlier than others, but you should be able to weed out the psychopaths fairly quickly.
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Old Saturday, April 22nd, 2017   #14
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Originally Posted by The Horned God View Post
All it would have taken for africans to domesticate the zebra, it seems to me, would have been for one likely individual to corral a couple of pregnant females and breed from those offspring that showed the least fear of humans and repeat with each successive generation. Then hey presto within a few decades he would have created a beast of burden that is immune to the tsetse fly! It never happened because no one ever thought of doing it.
You do not even have to do that to domesticate Zebra, When I used to shoe horses I was hired to trim and put shoes on a pair of Zebra in a private zoo. They used them to pull a cart and they said you could ride them. They actually stood for trimming and shoeing very well and I even hot shoed them, that is where you burn a hot shoe into the bottom of the hoof to get a perfect fit. It does not hurt them and they can't feel it, but the smoke and sizzle sound does scare some animals. These Zebra were both born in the wild.

I think Zebra are more closely related to the wild ass than to horses, they have almost the same hoof and lower leg bone structure as a donkey. Mules and donkeys are less flighty than horses, that is why they use them for hunting coons here.
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Old Saturday, April 22nd, 2017   #15
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As a side note I remember two related arguments. One is that alpaca could not be vicunas, and therefore must be guanacos/llamas (Lama guanicoe). The other is that dogs cannot be descended from wolves. The camelid situation is resolved, that alpacas are domesticated vicunas (Lama vicugna) against behavioural predictions. With dogs it is not so clear cut. Thinking now is they are decended from an extinct wild form called Canis chihlensis/variablis that resembled the dingo. The Canis armbrusteri-dirus and Canis lupus lines were therefore offshoots from the ancestor, separate from Canis familiaris. Its also worth noting Fuegian "dogs" were descended from native South American canids and that the Hare Indian/Mackenzie River dog in N Canada was barely distinguishable from Canis latrans. And then there are the mysterious Paleolithic molossoid type dogs or wolves from archaeological sites in Ice Age Europe. So maybe the Galton/Diamond idea is outright wrongful.
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