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If humans take wild animals and plants and keep and breed them, over time the animals and plants may change. The animals and plants become dependent on the humans who keep them, and they change in ways that are better for human use. This change (domestication) happens by humans choosing which animals will breed the next generation. This method is called by biologists artificial selection.
The first domestication of plants happened during the first use of agriculture. Human first domesticated dogs. After the invention of agriculture, people domesticated sheep and goats, and later cattle and pigs.
Origin of the dog
The origin of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) began with the domestication of the grey wolf (Canis lupus) several tens of thousands of years ago. Domesticated dogs provided early humans with a guard animal, a source of food, fur, and a working animal (hunting, pulling sleds). The process continues to this day.
Cats were also domesticated quite early. At the beginning of agriculture, people started to domesticate sheep and goats, and later pigs and cattle. Other animals that were domesticated early are camels, donkeys and horses. Some animals, like the domestic rabbit, were only domesticated in recent times.
The first evidence of plant domestication comes from wheat found in pre-Pottery Neolithic villages in Southwest Asia. They are dated at 10,500 to 10,100 BC. The Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and India were sites of the earliest planned sowing and harvesting of plants.
Agriculture developed independently in a number of places at different times. The eight Neolithic founder crops (emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chickpeas and flax) had all appeared by about 7000 BC.
Some domesticated animals
- Dienekes' Anthropology Blog : Dog domestication in the Aurignacian (c. 32kyBP)
- MSNBC : World's first dog lived 31,700 years ago, ate big
- Scott, John Paul & Fuller, John L. 1974. Dog behavior: the genetic basis. 2nd ed, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226743387. ISBN 0-226-74338-1, ISBN 978-0-226-74338-7. p54]
- Savolainen, Peter et al. (2002-11-22). "Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs". Science 298 (5598): 1610–3. . .
- James Serpell 1995. The domestic dog: its evolution, behaviour, and interactions with people. Cambridge University Press. p10-12
- SJM Davis and FR Valla 1978. Evidence for domestication of the dog 12,000 years ago in the Natufian of Palestine, Nature 276, 608-610.
- "Oldest known pet cat? 9500-Year-Old burial found on Cyprus". National Geographic News. 2004-04-08. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/04/0408_040408_oldestpetcat.html. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Carlos A. Driscoll, Juliet Clutton-Brock, Andrew C. Kitchener and Stephen J. O'Brien. "The evolution of house cats". Scientific American. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-taming-of-the-cat. Retrieved 2009.
- Zohary, Daniel Hopf, Maria Weiss, Ehud 2012. Domestication. Oxford University Press.
- Root, Clive 2007. Domestication of plants in the Old World. Greenwood.
- Colledge, Sue & Conolly, James 2007. The origins and spread of domestic plants in southwest Asia and Europe, p40.