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Natural vs Artificial Selection

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Natural Vs Artificial Selection in dogs that has been altered to suit a person’s need
Dogs exist in both wild and domestic set-up whereby they vary in shape and size. This means that there are different breeds of dogs resulting from artificial and natural selection. Each existing species was created separately but they can be modified by the environment. However, these changes are limited hence cannot produce a new species. Artificial selection is whereby a species of a particular plant or animal is modifies by breeders into a distinct breed with unique physical attributes. The offspring obtained from each breeding process may exhibit minimal differences that only a breeder can identify. The aim of this breeding process is to breed an offspring with desired physical attributes, which is then allowed to breed further. An offspring with undesired physical attributes is not allowed to breed. The breeding process is repeated until the small differences observed increase gradually. This represents the process of artificial selection (Venemma). Natural selection represents a similar process that occurs in nature. In a natural setup, organisms normally vary hence reproduce at a specific geometric rate. Survival of these organisms depends on adaptation to the natural environment (Pollan 23). This creates a division whereby organisms that are environmentally suited will reproduce and those not suited will die. This is a resemblance of artificial selection, but this natural selection is done through nature. The difference between artificial selection and natural selection is that the latter favors traits which foster survival and reproduction rather than those desired by man (The Independent). Diversity in dog species is a result of both artificial and natural selection. Natural selection in dogs has led to the occurrence of a variety of canines that inhabit wild habitats. Human breeding or artificial selection has led to the creation of different dog breeds nowadays. It is worth noting that some dog breeds while others die. The surviving dog breeds pass certain phenotypic traits to their offspring. The features passed down to the offspring are normally observable such as coat color. Artificial selection gives humans the ability to dictate which breeds survive whereas in natural selection, breeds that survive are those able to meet challenges presented by nature (Harris). The domestic dog was the first animal to be domesticated by man even before the advent of agriculture. This is a perfect example of artificial selection as postulated by Darwin. Genomics has revealed that there is a close relationship between domestic dogs and wolves. Variations observed in nature are hereditary hence humans add up these variations gradually through selective breeding. Breeders normally select particular traits which are transcended to other generations. This cumulative change results in different dog breeds. For instance, breeds prefer dogs with a curly coat hence are preferred to breed instead of those that have straight coat (Venemma). Domestication of the dog made possible the practice of selective breeding. Small changes made in a variety of genomes result in morphological and behavioral changes in dog breeds. Artificial selection was an argument presented by Darwin which revealed the flexibility of dog breeds when subjected to breeding processes over time. This paper examines the impact of artificial selection on dog species, which has led to the creation of new dog breeds. In addition, natural selection has also shaped up the genome as a result of domestication (Venemma).
Biological Origin The origin of the dog has been a subject to ponder for many years because there are over 350 dog breeds in existence. The domestic dog differs in size, shape, and behavior; traits that prove difficult to determine its ancestry. Evidence suggests that the Gray Wolf is an ancestor of domestic dogs. There are a number of accounts brought forth, which suggest how wild wolves transformed gradually into domestic dogs. This presents the idea of wolf domestication by man (Wills 78). Wild wolves began associating with man for a mutual benefit. This symbiotic relationship involved man recognition of the dog as a watchdog, clearing of homes, and at times as a food source. This led to assimilation of wolves into the social set up of man, which later became a permanent fixture. There exist striking similarities between the genome of wolves and the domestic dog. However, it is worth noting that small differences exist in the genome. This led to an inquiry as to which parts of the genome were selected to favor domestication of dog. Artificial selection normally reduces variation in a species by picking a section of a genome and promoting its reproduction into subsequent generations. This mutual relationship between man and wolf during the Paleolithic period was mainly hunting of certain prey. The existing fossil records do not indicate the lineage split between domesticated dogs and wolves. However, there are striking similarities between humans and wolves that led to the establishment of symbiotic relationship. Early man lived in social groups which is a similar case as wolves. In addition, both depended on hunting activities hence this common trait fostered the relationship. It has been suggested that humans observed wolves over some time and noticed similar traits. In other accounts, domestication was through rescuing abandoned pups (Wills 45).
There is a link between wolves and dogs that indicate a common ancestry due to their morphological and behavioral similarities. Similarities such as gestation period, the state of their pups at birth, and teeth appearance suggest a common ancestry. Vocalization similarities such as scent rolling and grooming are evident in both wolves and dogs. Wolves normally communicate to other members of the pack in a similar way as domestic dogs communicate to their owners (The Independent).
Selective breeding created notable difference between wolves and dogs such as the striking long muzzle in wolves, which lack in domestic dogs. The tail of a wolf tends to hang straight down when the animal is at rest whereas a dog’s tail is curled over its back. In addition, the hind legs of wolves tend to move in a similar pattern with front legs whereas a dog’s legs trail the front legs (Wills 25).
It is worth noting that bonding between human being and wolves was as a result of similarities in the social structure. However, wolves living in close proximity with early man’s settlements had to adopt a subordinate status to enable domestication. Some of the wolves slotted in easily into human settlements while those that failed to do so were chased away or killed. The wolves in human settlements had to change their meat diet hence relied on scraps of meat or sometimes hunted small animals. Male and female wolves bred domestically creating new distinct offspring. This new population of domestic wolves gradually changed into what we know now as domestic dogs. They experienced physical and behavioral change exhibited by domestic dogs. Domestic dogs are smaller in size and have a relatively small snout compared to the wolves (Harris). Changes ensued as a result of domestication. Man was able to generate domestic dogs that exhibited different shape, size, and behavior through artificial selection. Early man practiced selective breeding by choosing different dog breeds that showed desirable traits. Such traits included the ability to herd animals or the ability to assist man in hunting activities.

Anthropological angle in evolution of dogs
There is a notable genetic diversity among animals exhibited by their physical and behavioral variations. Natural selection process applies in nature whereby these genetic variations normally determine the survival of dogs. As indicated earlier, natural selection normally reduces variations among animals. This is because the traits that hinder survival of animals are normally wiped off due to inability to reproduce. When this happens, this trait is normally referred as that which is selected against (Harris).
However, in artificial selection, human beings have the ability to select these traits on their own to suit their needs. This process was initiated after the onset of domestication. These desirable traits favored humans who bred them rather than dogs. For instance, bulldogs with relatively large heads have been bred due to the intervention of veterinary medicine. In nature, bulldogs with larger heads cannot be born without the need for caesarean delivery. In this situation, the bulldogs were bred for their appearance (Wills 34).
Another reason for selective breeding of dogs to facilitate domestication was the taming of wild dog species. Domesticated dogs are known to provide companionship to man hence the reason for selective breeding among species. Wild dog species such as foxes are known for their aggression hence dangerous for domestication. Early man first interbred distinct species in hope that a tamer species would arise. This would make them easier to handle at a domestic setup. For instance, man chose foxes that were tolerant to human beings compared to others. As a result of artificial selection over a significant period, the foxes became tamer and more tolerable to man. In addition, the foxes developed desirable physical attributes such as different coat color, floppy ears, and curly tails. Continues selective breeding provided man with a pet of desirable qualities. The explanation to this bizarre finding was that an alteration in one attribute resulted in a new trait such as distinct physical characteristics. A new form of domesticated dog species was established. Social bonds and human attachment increased due to a reduction in flight tendencies. The main aim for this domestication was to create a dog species that would become beneficial in serving human needs. Due to the increased social bonds between dogs and human beings, they were trained to carry out certain tasks such as animal herding or participate in hunting activities. Many species have resulted as a result of selective breeding. It is worth noting that dogs are the only species with the highest diversity in the animal kingdom. This is due to artificial selection. Nowadays, domesticated dogs serve man in different ways as human beings continue to utilize them in different ways (Barber).
Economic Impact Man derived significant benefits from dogs after their domestication such as security, reliable food source, and continuation of selective interbreeding. In addition, domesticated dogs provided man with a large visual scope in identifying predators and prey. Man and dog worked in unison in this new partnership. Dogs also assisted man in clearing homes by feeding on left-over food hence fostering sanitation. Dogs had a sensitive sense of smell which aided man in hunting activities which is the main reason for the domestication of wolves (Harris).
Nowadays, artificial selection through selective interbreeding in dogs normally result in a number of desirable species. These physical and behavioral attributes are normally interbred to suit human expectations. There are a number of business establishments that major in rearing pets for commercial purposes. All these practices aim at creating a perfect companion for human beings. As a result of selective interbreeding, rearing of pets has become a viable business. There is an array of dog products such as perfumes, housing, dog groomers, trainers, and many more dog services (Wills 56).
In addition, dogs have become a permanent fixture in work activities due to their ability to engage in different tasks. In the early days, dogs were selectively bred to carry out duties such as herding animals, hunting activities, clearing homes, controlling rodents, and providing security in human settlements. Nowadays, dogs are used to assist people with different disabilities. For this reason, there are a number of dogs that carry out duties such as guiding, assisting, hearing, and psychological therapy (Barber).
In some societies such as Asian countries, dog meat is used as a food source by many people. This practice has been in existence since time immemorial. Most restaurants in South Korea serve dog-meat and soup as a delicacy. In these countries, dogs are normally reared for consumption purposes.
Dogs are used in a number of sporting events that involve competition. These shows include racing, sledding, and sporting activities that test agility.
From the test, it has been established that dogs were domesticated from wolves. The process of domestication transformed wolves into breeds that had desirable physical and behavioral attributes. This was the onset of artificial selection whereby man selectively bred dogs to suit his needs. This variation gradually led to the development of different dog breed with desirable qualities. This change in morphology and behavioral attributes resulted from early artificial selection. This created endless possibilities for man since it provided an opportunity to exploit this mysterious species. All this was made possible by natural and artificial selection.

Works Cited
Barber, Nigel. “Why are humans and dogs so good at living together?” Psychology Today, 2009.
Web. 30 April 2009.
Harris, Hannah. “How Dogs Work. Pets, 2011.
Web. 25 April 2011.
Pollan, Michael. TheBotany of Desire: A plant’s eye view of the world.
London: Bloomsbury.
The Independent. “Taming the wolf: domesticating the dog.” The independent, 2014.
Web. 18 June 2014.
Venemma, Dennis. “Evolution Basics: Artificial Selection and the origins of the domestic dog.” Biologos, 2013.
Web. 4 April 2013.
Wills, Christopher. The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the world through evolutionary eyes.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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