Evolutionary History of the Goldfish

-Evolutionary History of the goldfish

All modern goldfish are decedent from Chinese Crucial Carp.  There is some debate on whether or not the Japanese Crucial Carp is the ancestor from which modern goldfish have evolved, but this has been debunked by a well-documented experiment in which gene sequences of goldfish were tested (Komiyama et al., 2009, pp 5-11).  This also addressed the unsystematic way in which the goldfish has developed due to artificial selection created by humans.  This interference accounted for any misunderstanding in regards to the evolution of the goldfish and its origins.  This experiment produced the following graph which incorporates the ancestor of the goldfish and the phenotypical changes that occurred since the Chinese Crucian carp.  In this image we see the changes in dorsal fin and eyes that the goldfish experienced in its evolutionary history as a result of its domestication.

Evolutionary History of the Goldfish

Confusion on the true ancestor of the goldfish is not widespread, but the monumental effect that Japan has had on the goldfish and vice versa could cause some debate regarding its history.  Even more support for the true ancestor of the goldfish comes from documented reports of its exportation to Japan in 1500 CE from China (Clutton-Brock, 2012, pp 96-97).  As discussed on another page, the domestication of the goldfish began with a mutation of a Chinese Crucial Carp that resulted in a gold color which was found favorable.  This mutation occurred early in the Sung Dynasty (970-1278 CE) and domestication ensued through isolation and interbreeding (Clutton-Brock, 2012, pp 96-97).  The domestication of the goldfish is unique in that it happened in one place at one time and then spread.  Compared to the process of domestication of other animals which occurred all over the world and at different times, it seems strange that the goldfish did not share in this fate.  The fact that the goldfish serves no practical use could attest to this difference.  If something is beneficial and leads to progress, then it makes sense that it would be discovered and utilized by different people in different locations.  The goldfish however provides little practical benefits and does not directly lead to progress due to its use as a visual stimulate and nothing more.  The fact that Emperors catalyzed the domestication of goldfish shows that its process was a product of leisure and free time (Matsubara, 1910, pp 383-396).  It would make sense that something nonessential especially so far in the past would be unique.  The domestication of the goldfish is much more abrupt than other domestication because of the ease and amount of control humans have over fish.  There is no gray area.  Ingold discusses domestication as a transition of trust and cooperation to domination and controlling between man and animal (Ingold, 2000, pp 61-76).  This explanation of domestication certainly describes the way humans have made goldfish so plastic, and how dominant their role is in the lives of goldfish.  The relationship between man and fish never seemed to involve much cooperation or trust but the domination of goldfish through artificial selection is evident.           

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