When I think of rats I mainly think of the gross rodents carrying the Bubonic plague. I never really connected how rats domestication and alterations over time paralleled with urbanization and human development.  Burt talks about how powerful and destructive rats can be and that the major way to control their populations is because they end up self destructing and eating their own. Rats and mice show up in historical/biblical/ancient references but are generally considered sewage rodents and not are not cared for like other “cuter”animals. However, there contributions to science and discovery is something we should be very thankful as a species for.  “The bioengineered mouse,” Donna Haraway recently wrote, “is simulataneously a metaphor, a technology, and a beast living out its many layered life as best it can.” Indeed, in order for this creature to be able to live its life at all, it must inhabit a technosciencetific reality that is perhaps inevitable, perhaps not-but its most certainly a world of our own making. This was an interesting summary of part of the Rader article because of how humans have redefined and controlled the role of rats. We have almost created a new type of rat altogether, except instead of using it for food/dairy we use it for medial advancements in our own species. Where would science be without the lab rat?

Darwin Class Discussion

Here are the topics Tanner and I have come up with for tomorrow’s discussion:

1. There are indications that Darwin seems to think some domestic and wild species are superior or inferior than others. Is there any validity to describing species this way? What might the criteria for calling one species superior than another?
2. Is domestication actually a mutualistic process? Do both humans and the animals necessarily benefit?
3. What implications for domestication and human involvement in the ecosystem arise from the rabbit plague of Australia and similar events?
4. What might be the reasons that color seems to be so highly correlated with disease susceptibility and survivability of domestic and wild animals
5. Changes causing more harm than good: how do we predict if human interference with mutations will hurt or help?
6.  Animals as status symbols, “something man could manipulate” What rights should animals have?
7. Links between evolution and civilization, cultural domestication
8.  Acclimatization of animals




I liked the connection to a cultural domestication, it is something I haven’t thought fully about before. I like the reference to pets representing a higher social status in France and Germany. I think today other animals represent wealth especially in the new trends to keep acquiring exotic animals and mixed breeds. The readings stated that as people’s personal engagement with livestock diminished it coincided with a shift to urban populated areas. This trend has also continued today . The most interesting relationship to me is how humans treat some animals over others. People love their dogs more than other people sometimes but when it comes to cattle we readily eat it. How did the domestication process evolve to produce emotional connections with some animals and not others ?