“Regular exposure to humans results in white patches in the fur.”

The domestication syndrome


Mon, Mar 19th, 2018 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Researchers at the University of Zurich have determined that exposure to humans causes animals to change their appearance compared to that of their wild relatives. Reportedly, these changes will occur even without the humans doing the actual genetic selection: all it takes is interaction and time.

A team of researchers led by Anna Lindholm from the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at UZH has now also observed this phenomenon in wild mice (Mus musculus domesticus) that live in a barn near Zurich. Within a decade, this population of mice developed two of the distinct phenotypic changes: white patches on their otherwise brown-colored fur as well as shorter snouts. “The mice gradually lost their fear and developed signs of domestication. This happened without any human selection, solely as a result of being exposed to us regularly,” says Anna Lindholm. The evolutionary biologist has been studying the mice that live in the empty barn for about 15 years. These animals are regularly provided with food and water, and investigated by the researchers.



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