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What is Domestication?

In this article, we are going to discuss what is domestication.

Domestication is the process of adapting wild plants and animals for human consumption. Domestic animals are raised for food, work, clothing, medicine, and a variety of other purposes. Humans must raise and care for domesticated plants and animals. Domesticated species do not exist in the wild.


Domestication of Plants

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Plants were domesticated for the first time around 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (which includes the modern countries of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria). People collected and planted wild plant seeds. They ensured that the plants received the necessary amount of water and that they were planted in areas that received the appropriate amount of sunlight. People harvested the food crops weeks or months later when the plants bloomed.


Wheat, barley, lentils, and various types of peas were among the first plants to be domesticated in Mesopotamia. Plants were domesticated in other parts of the world, including eastern Asia, parts of Africa, and parts of North and South America. Rice (in Asia) and potatoes (in South America) were two other plants cultivated by early civilizations.


Plants have been domesticated for more than just food. Cotton plants were domesticated for their fibre, which is used in the production of cloth. Some flowers, such as tulips, were domesticated for decorative purposes.


First Domesticated Animal

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Goats were most likely the first domesticated animals, followed closely by sheep. Chickens were domesticated in Southeast Asia around 10,000 years ago. Later, larger animals, such as oxen or horses, were domesticated for ploughing and transportation. 


Animal domestication can be arduous work. Herbivores that graze on vegetation are the easiest to domesticate because they are the simplest to feed: they do not require humans to kill other animals to feed them or to grow special crops. Cows, for example, are very easy to domesticate. Because grains are valuable and must also be domesticated, herbivores that eat grains are more difficult to domesticate than herbivores that graze. Chickens are herbivores, meaning they eat seeds and grains.


Some domesticated animals no longer serve their original purpose. Some dogs were domesticated to help people hunt, for example. Today, there are hundreds of domestic dog species. Many of them are still excellent hunters, but the majority are kept as pets.


People have bred domesticated animals throughout history to promote specific traits. Domestic animals are chosen for their calm temperament and ability to breed in captivity. Their ability to resist disease and thrive in harsh environments is also valuable.


These characteristics distinguish domestic animals from their wild ancestors over time. Grey wolves were most likely the source of domestication for dogs. Dogs are now a separate species from grey wolves.


Domestication of Animals in Neolithic Age

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Livestock: The first livestock were domesticated from animals, hunted for meat by Neolithic humans. Domestic pigs, for example, were bred from wild boars, whereas goats were bred from Persian ibex. Domesticated animals enabled the hard, physical labour of farming, while their milk and meat supplemented the human diet. They also carried infectious diseases, such as smallpox, influenza, and measles, which were transmitted from domesticated animals to humans.


Sheep and cattle were among the first farm animals. Between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago, these first appeared in Mesopotamia. Soon after, water buffalo and yak were domesticated in parts of China, India, and Tibet.


Draft animals such as oxen, donkeys, and camels appeared much later, around 4,000 B.C., as humans developed trade routes for goods transportation.


Domestication in Plant Breeding

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Plant domestication: The evolutionary process by which a wild seed plant acquires phenotypic characteristics that make it dependent on humans for survival and reproduction. This occurs during the early stages of cultivation. A wild progenitor (or wild ancestor) is a crop's closest wild relative.


Domestication was a complex evolutionary process for many crop species, making the assignment of a unique ancestral wild gene pool difficult.


Domestication of Animals in Mesolithic Age

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Domestication of animals and plants appears to have begun in the Old World during the Mesolithic Period. Dogs were domesticated in Central Asia at least 15,000 years ago by people who hunted and foraged for wild edible plants.


The first successful domestication of plants, as well as goats, cattle, and other animals, heralded the beginning of the Neolithic Period around 9500 BCE. However, it wasn't until the Neolithic Period that primitive agriculture became a form of social activity, and domestication was well underway. (The Neolithic Period began at various times around the world, but it is generally thought to have begun between 10,000 and 8,000 BCE.)


Although the vast majority of domesticated animals and plants that are still used by humans were chosen and developed during the Neolithic Period, a few notable exceptions emerged later. The rabbit, for example, was not inhabited until the Middle Ages; the sugar beet was not cultivated as a sugar-yielding agricultural plant until the nineteenth century, and mint was not cultivated until the twentieth century. A new branch of animal breeding was also developed in the twentieth century to obtain high-quality fur.

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FAQs on Domestication

Question 1. Can Any Animal be Domesticated?

Answer: An individual wild animal, or a wild animal born in captivity, can be tamed—their behaviour can be conditioned so that they become ready to live alongside humans—but they are not truly domesticated and remain genetically wild. The majority, however, have historically been managed to capture from the wild and tamed for human use.

Question 2. What is Domestication Definition?

Answer: Let us define the term "domesticated." Domestication is the process of domesticating wild plants and animals for human consumption. Domestic animals are raised for food, work, clothing, medicine, and a variety of other purposes. Humans must raise and care for domesticated plants and animals. Domesticated species do not exist in the wild.