Domestication and Evolution

As I delved into the assigned readings and video, I found that many questions I had formed while attaining to one would later be answered by another.  Relationships between assignments started becoming apparent so I tried to hone in on a central theme besides the obvious common topic of domestication.  I became increasingly interested in the relationship between domestication and evolution.  The two went hand in hand in more ways than I had thought previously.  Evolution, as mainly discussed in the Evolutionary History article, is the root of most that is and most that was.  It would seem that such a powerful force would be beyond harnessing but through domestication, humans have wielded the all powerful tool of evolution.  Each assignment demonstrates individually and as a collective group that humans have taken it upon themselves to play the part of Mother Nature.   With all of her complexities it is no surprise that problems have arose as a result of humans trying their hand at taking charge of the natural balance of all things.


Guns, Germs and Steel is based upon a seemingly easy question: why are some parts of the world more developed than other.  Through his investigations and research, Jarred Diamond comes up with a seemingly easy answer: geography.  It is almost frustrating to think that so much can depend simply on location.  Are humans simply not able to thrive in certain locations?  The journey to this conclusion is interesting and yet again displays the powers of domestication.  I enjoyed experiencing the progression of domestication in civilization and how it led to better crops and animals and thus larger population densities.  As domestication becomes more efficient, less effort is spent upon survival.  With more free time humans become innovative and thus evolve as a species.  I found this all interesting but I still could not get over my frustration and in this state I tried to force the possibility of domestication in New Guinea.  Are some regions meant to domesticate and reap its benefits while others are striped of even having this chance?  I agree that domestication is essential to evolution as demonstrated by the Middle Paleolithic population which became stagnant without it, but is it possible everywhere?  The video dismissed the possibility of effectively domesticating insects, a technique that would appear to benefit a place deprived of large game like New Guinea.  I thought this was an unfair assumption, just because it has not been attempted does not mean no benefit can be found in the practice.  This practice could be perfected across thousands of years just as the domestication of large animals has been in prosperous regions of the world.  The video also reflects on the advantages of having temperate animals available for domestication and uses the example of the flighty personality of a zebra to explain the lack of domestication of animals in Africa.  Both articles, however, admit that early domestication can be the cause of temperate animals.  The domestication of the wolf lead to modern day dogs, so it is possible that the temperament of zebras could mirror that of horses if they had been domesticated.


Despite these facts, if I were to submit to the notion that domestication is in fact impossible to achieve at a productive enough level  to cause prosperous civilizations anywhere in the world, then I would make the argument that there is an imbalance regarding domestication.  Furthermore inequality of civilizations as well as the negative effects of domestication proves that the relationship between evolution and domestication is not balanced.  I could make the argument that too much domestication occurs in parts of the world just as much as I can argue that not enough domestication occurs in other parts.  The article titled “Energy and Ecosystems” addresses the wasting of food and thus reveals the inefficiency of domestication.  Why does food go to waste in some parts of the world while it is barely available in others?  To this I propose that domestication is growing too fast for evolution.  Namely our population as a result of domestication is growing faster than we can evolve to be as efficient as possible.  Animals are becoming extinct, resource pools are shrinking and pathogens are becoming stronger.  There is an imbalance in nature, we are became kings with our reign over other species and thus began our battle with nature.  I believe the key to achieving efficiency and equality is to finding the true balance between domestication and evolution.

One Response to “Domestication and Evolution”
  1. Anonymous 28 January 2013 at 7:31 pm #
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