"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible forever for what you have tamed." Antoine de Saint~Exupery.
Many years ago I watched a show on a study Russia was doing on the domestication of wild animals. I have never forgotten it. It blew my mind.
The animals used were arctic foxes, in all respects wild animals. Dmitri Belyaev, the Russian scientist who's brain wave this little experiment was, was interested in how dog coats had evolved to be significantly different to the coat of a wolf. Not being a scientist I can only explain this in the simplest form that I understand it: Belyaev believed behaviour was the key to certain mutations. His breeding program focused on one trait exclusively: Those foxes that showed the least fear of men & the friendliest reactions to them were retained & bred from.
If you are culling aggressive animals & breeding non~aggressive animals to non~aggressive animals you would expect, over time, to have a pool of friendly foxes that were not afraid of men. Well, I would. My mind works that way. That's not quite what happened though.
What Belyaev ended up with were in essence no longer foxes. Very quickly he found that the new generations had shorter snouts, broader heads & displayed prolonged juvenile attributes. They also displayed whining, barking, submissiveness, tail wagging & licking their handlers in affection. That's weird enough but sort of expected in a way. Lots of wild animals will display signs of affection towards humans they trust. Or at least, that's been my experience.
What was really weird is what else happened. Remember Balyaev was only breeding for friendliness! What he got was mutations! Spotted coats. Floppy ears. Curled tails. A whole swag of genetic mutations. The foxes lost their distinctive musk scent & were behaving more & more like domesticated dogs, with all the various attributes of mutts. The theory goes that the breeding program destabilised the genetic make~up triggering changes in hormone levels that triggered all sorts of mutations that would never be seen in the wild.
And that, folks, is absolutely fascinating. Gives me an inside look as to how, maybe, God is going to get the lion to lie down with the lamb without the lion considering the lamb as that night's dinner!