Natural Selection & Variability

Darwin in this reading has really expressed his ideas thoroughly and clearly. It’s impressive to see someone not beat around the bush whatsoever, and stick right to the point. Before reading this, I had no idea what this idea of variability was, or that humans had a major impact on it. I  highly value scientists opinions and ideas, so this was an enjoyable read for me.

I sometimes try to put myself in Darwin’s shoes, just to try and understand how society was… “accepting” his ideas on evolution. In the 1800’s, the religious creation idea was widely, commonly accepted. But regardless everyone can agree that human impacts on animals has caused variability. Without humans moving crops, animals, etc. from one location to another, and those animals or crops adapting to their new location, the variety of species of such would be a lot less as it is now. Natural selection some may call it, but is human involvement with nature really that “natural”?

I just don’t see how we can consider humans directly genetically modifying crops and animals as natural. Sure if you consider humans to be just another species in the Animal Kingdom, which we are. But we are so much more developed, both physically AND mentally. If you think about it, we can outsmart any other species, whether its distraction, kill tactics, defense, etc. So the “natural selection” of this genetically, mentally dominant species is considered legitimate to how nature is? I’m not so sure about that, although I do not disagree with Darwin that our selection has shaped nature, I just don’t like the term natural in front of selection.

It goes without saying that this selection process is exclusively involved with domesticated animals, in specific ones that provide use to humans. Whether for meat, furs, travel, etc. we will as humans weed out the small weak ones in exchange for the strong, meaty, colorful, exotic ones, or basically whatever the demand is at that time. We have been able to specifically modify domesticated animals into basically anything we want. Again, the term natural selection shows up in this scenario, but what is so natural of this genetic modification?

Horses and Donkeys, oh my

I think Camilla, being the first to post between us two, hit most of the key topics that I was hoping to discuss in this week’s discussion. So I’m going to keep this short, and have some open ended questions to talk about for this week.

I’ll start with this:

Who was the first to understand that putting a bit in the mouth of the horse was instrumental to domesticating, and to go further, riding horses? What kind of adaptations have horses had with the introduction to such?

There was a lot of discussion on the differences in the domestication of the female vs. the male horse. Could there have been a dominant stallion (male) that was domesticated, as the readings mentioned? Why is there such a greater diversity of mares than stallions?

How long did it take people to realize that horses were beneficial not only for meat, but for riding and transportation as well? Could there have been an anxious look about getting on top of an animal twice or three times your size, and kicking it, telling it to go? What other factors contributed to the riding portion of horse usefulness?

When horses were introduced to aid in herding, how might that have changed the process? What kind of reactions might the herded animal (or the horse) have towards each other?

Most of what I was going to talk about was covered in Camilla’s post, but I’d like to reiterate some of her key points:

I like the idea of categorizing with respect to materials used (bronze age, iron, etc). But would this be too broad of a categorization? What “age”, depending on materials, would you consider us to be in now? Why?

In my vernacular, I use the term “dumb ass” quite frequently. Yet back in the day, the ass was respected and praised, as Camilla said. Besides the flow of the saying, why did it maintain a position as an insult for these last hundred or so years? What did Shakespeare have to do with that terminology?

Ah, the penis, what a topic to discuss. The donkey and horse penis was, I guess you could say, a well respected symbol, yet why? What gave it such a unique vibe? And why the horse and donkey?

The Goat Ballad

As a newbie to the goat milking scene, I didn’t realize how much of an art it is to have and own goats. But we’ll get into that later. Brad Kessler’s book The Goat Song is quite touching, and he really makes you feel his emotions as you read through it, as well as gaining some very interesting knowledge on goat etiquette. Digging deep into the roots of goat domestication, as well as giving background knowledge on things related to goats (such as “scapegoats”), and how goats tie into religion and spiritual values is just the start of it. But wow, does he go in depth on the goat owning process.

To start, just choosing which goats to have is a process itself. You need to decide what color, attitudes, age, gender, size, etc. that’ll fit your needs. Not to mention if you do decide to milk it, you don’t know how its going to react (talking about that b**** Hannah who was a tussle to milk). Once you’ve made your selection, you also have to prepare an area for them, with pastures, a barn, stalls, the whole 9 yards. Finally, the part that would get me everytime, taking the chosen goats away from their friends and family (goats).

Do you think goats have emotional feelings about being separated from their mothers, fathers, goatly friends, and so on? Or for any animal of that nature, just talking about goats here because of he relevancy. But seriously, is there torment to a goat’s psyche when taking it away from the goats they have been with all their (short) lives? Kessler kind of made it seem so, talking about how the goats and kids shrieked and screamed when leaving, as well as when the sisters were separated while the one was dealing with the serious infection. Food for thought.

Kessler’s description of the inseminating of the goats was, well, remarkable. Not in a “woah dude, that’s weird” way, but a “wow, that’s interesting” way. Female goats, while in heat, put off an odor strong enough that made any male goat, well, stiffen up at  the slightest scent of it. And again, humans have a big decision as to what goat they want to impregnate their females, based on similar traits as listed off previously. Finally, once the choice is made, it doesn’t take hardly a push at all for the two to mate whatsoever.

But the real art to this masterpiece, is the milk. Oh what time and precision is put into the milking of the goat. After the birthing of the babies, the goats are almost immediately ready to go. Although I do kind of have a problem with the separation of the kid from its mother’s milk. I know, I know, I’m a hypocrite because I drink dairy milk, and that’s the same thing, But as Bulliet would say, I am a post-domestic thinker, whose been carefully separated from this part of the milk process, and I prefer to buy the gallons of milk from the store, versus watching the babies fight to gain access to their mother’s udders, and being denied every time at the hands of a human.


Gosh, all this reading is starting to mix with one another.