Ten Random (But Fascinating) Facts About Dogs and Domestication (Plus, Holiday Freebie!)

December 12, 2016

Have a junior science lover on your holiday shopping list? Here’s how to give them a special treat:

  • Buy a copy of Fox Talk or Fuzzy Forensics from your favourite bookseller
  • Email a copy of the receipt to shop@foxtalk.ca
  • Include your mailing address and personalization instructions in your message

For every copy purchased, I will mail you a FREE, personalized, autographed book plate!

Want a taste of the awesome that’s inside Fox Talk? Read on, my friends!

1. Dogs were the first domestic animal species. Unambiguous archaeological evidence for dogs is about 12,000 years old, but domestication may have started 20,000 years or more before that.

2. Ancient Egyptians had at least three dog breeds: a greyhound type, a mastiff type, and a small Spitz type.

3. The modern concept of breeds, and of deliberately breeding animals for specific traits, developed in Victorian England. Which means that most of the 400-ish dog breeds recognized today are less than 200 years old.


Check out those ears!
Courtesy of WilleeCole/Shutterstock

4. Scientists aren’t entirely sure whether house cats are actually domesticated. It’s possible they’re nothing but “delightful profiteers,” to borrow a phrase from Stephen O’Brien, leading expert on the evolution of the cat family.

5. Dingos are a breed of domestic dog. People took dingos with them to Australia several thousand years ago.

6. Floppy ears are found in almost every domestic species. The only wild species with floppy ears is the elephant.

7. Chimpanzees are humans’ closest relatives. Dogs are better at interpreting human gestures, such as pointing.

8. Crop species are considered domesticates of wild plants.

9. Domestication is a type of evolution. Natural, artificial, unconscious, and conscious forms of selection are all involved.

10. The group of Russian scientists that domesticated red foxes also attempted to domesticate otters. It did not go well. Neither did other people’s attempts to domesticate zebras, despite their close relationship to horses.

2015 Gelett Burgess Winner! (Wildlife Category)

2015 Gelett Burgess Winner! (Wildlife Category)

Did I miss your favourite dog or pet fact? Share it in the comments! 

Want more? Check out Fox Talk – a great gift for ages 8-12. 

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