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Domestication is a change that happens in wild animals or plants, when they are kept by humans for a long time.

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.

Domesticated plants are crops or ornamental plants. People use domesticated animals as livestock, that means for food, clothing, and work. Otherwise, the domesticated animals may be kept as pets.

Domesticated animals

Cattle in Ancient Egypt.

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.[1][2][3] 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.

Archaeology has placed the earliest known domestication at possibly 30,000 BC,[1][2] and with certainty at 7,000 BC.[3] Other evidence suggests that dogs were first domesticated in East Asia.[4]

Perhaps the earliest clear cultural evidence for this domestication is the first dog found buried together with human, 12,000 years ago in Palestine.[5][6]

Other animals

Cats were also domesticated quite early.[7][8] 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.

Domesticated plants

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.[9] The Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and India were sites of the earliest planned sowing and harvesting of plants.[10]

Agriculture developed independently in a number of places at different times.[9] The eight Neolithic founder crops (emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chickpeas and flax) had all appeared by about 7000 BC.[11]

Some domesticated animals


Image Name Order (member)
Hausente.jpg Duck Birds
Rock Pigeon.jpg Pigeon
Amazon.parrot.arp.jpg Parrot
Domesticgeese.jpg Goose
Donkey in Clovelly, North Devon, England.jpg Donkey Even-toed ungulates
185x185px Llama
Ewe and lamb in Kent.jpg Sheep
Goat 1.jpg Goat
Sus scrofa scrofa.jpg Pig
BasraFeral.JPG Horse
Holstein heifer.jpg Cow
Camel in Sichuan China.jpg Camel
Amerikansk bulldog blocky bulldogs lera.jpg Dog Carnivores
Felis catus-cat on snow.jpg Cat
Black footed ferret picture.jpg Ferret
Rabbit Atoms.jpg Rabbit (none)
House mouse.jpg Mouse Rodents
Hamster in hand-cropped.jpg Hamster
Tamia rayé -- Eastern chipmunk 2.jpg Chipmunk
Orange and White Juvenile Guinea Pig3.jpg Guinea pig


Image Name Order (member)
Bombyx mori in Hainan - 01.JPG Silkworm Insects
Abeille-bee-profil.JPG Honeybee
Ocellaris clownfish.JPG Clownfish Fish
Gullfiskur.jpg Goldfish
Six koi.jpg Koi
03-04RedEyedFrog.jpg Frog

Related pages


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dienekes' Anthropology Blog : Dog domestication in the Aurignacian (c. 32kyBP)
  2. 2.0 2.1 MSNBC : World's first dog lived 31,700 years ago, ate big
  3. 3.0 3.1 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]
  4. Savolainen, Peter et al. (2002-11-22). "Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs". Science 298 (5598): 1610–3. doi:10.1126/science.1073906 . PMID 12446907 .
  5. James Serpell 1995. The domestic dog: its evolution, behaviour, and interactions with people. Cambridge University Press. p10-12
  6. 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.
  7. "Oldest known pet cat? 9500-Year-Old burial found on Cyprus". National Geographic News. 2004-04-08. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  8. Carlos A. Driscoll, Juliet Clutton-Brock, Andrew C. Kitchener and Stephen J. O'Brien. "The evolution of house cats". Scientific American. Retrieved 2009.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Zohary, Daniel Hopf, Maria Weiss, Ehud 2012. Domestication. Oxford University Press.
  10. Root, Clive 2007. Domestication of plants in the Old World. Greenwood.
  11. Colledge, Sue & Conolly, James 2007. The origins and spread of domestic plants in southwest Asia and Europe, p40.