WNPR

Teaching An Old Fox New Tricks

Jul 26, 2017

In 1959, Soviet geneticist Dmitri Belyaev started an ambitious experiment to study the origins of domestication -- he would attempt to breed domesticated wild foxes by selecting on their behavior alone, a process he imagined our ancestors carried out with dogs thousands of years before.

This hour, we look at the history and progress of this more-than-50-year experiment: What can it tell us about our animal companions -- and ourselves?

Plus, we catch up with some domesticated fox owners and find out if foxes are good pets in real life.

GUESTS:

  • Amy and David Bassett - Founders of the Judith A. Bassett Canid Education and Conservation Center in San Diego, and the owners of several Russian domesticated foxes
  • Lee Dugatkin - Author of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution
  • Jacob Mikanowski - Writes about science, history, and art for The Guardian, Prospect, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Aeon, and others

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.