[Taxacom] "Enculturalization" in apes, dogs, and birds

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Thu Feb 10 20:54:30 CST 2011

Hi Curtis,   
       Upon reflection, I guess enculturalization (enculturation)
probably shouldn't be applied to human children.  However, domesticated
animals are much different matter, since they can evolve at a much
greater rate.         
       Domestication basically forces the domesticated population to
adapt to human needs and culture (enculturalization). The domesticated
forms obviously underwent selection in favor of individuals which met
the needs of their human domesticators.  Sometimes (perhaps often) even
just a single gene change (especially for tameness) produced a lot of
other related changes (pleiotropy).  Their "germ plasma" therefore does
undergo important changes.  Russian scientists were able to accelerate
such changes in domesticated silver foxes within just the last 60 years,
producing foxes that are extremely dog-like in both behavior and
      The Russian experiment is just one extreme and accelerated example
of enculturation among domesticated species.  Those animals that adapt
to such domestication survive, while those which don't are increasingly
less able to reproduce in any comparable numbers.  When you have a world
increasingly dominated by larger and larger populations of humans, such
enculturalization becomes a significant factor in their differential
survival.  In terms of the past thousands or tens of thousands of years,
"unnatural" (human) selection has become more influential than broader
"natural" selection (with little or no human influence). Not surprising
as human populations greatly increased folllowing the bottle-neck which
apparently occurred some 76,000 years ago.  Of course, whether to call
such human intervention "natural" or "unnatural" is a matter of human
debate and sematics.  I guess calling it "unnatural" is to be expected
as an increasingly unfair fight when humans now outnumber so many other
species (especially among so many vertebrate species and even lots of
other eukaryotic taxa).  
Curtis wrote:
     What you write makes no sense. Enculturation does not affect the
germ plasm, and must be done anew every generation. 

More information about the Taxacom mailing list