Scientists Say: Domestication | Science News for Students

Scientists Say: Domestication

This is the process that brings organisms out of the wild and into our lives
Jul 24, 2017 — 6:50 am EST
big and little dog

It may not look like this Czechoslovakian wolfdog and the smaller Chihuahua have much in common, but they were both domesticated from wolves.


Domestication (noun, “Doh-MESS-tih-CAY-shun”, verb, “domesticate”)

This is the process of taking a wild organism and taming it or otherwise making it useful to people. An animal can be domesticated to be a pet — such as a dog or hamster — or to provide food or work, like with a cow, horse or chicken. Domesticated animals are bred in captivity, have to be fed by humans and are usually comfortable around people. Getting from wild to domesticated isn’t a fast process. Turning a wild wolf into a Chihuahua took thousands of years of breeding and selection.

Plants have also been domesticated. Like with animals, the process takes a long while. But it has produced many of the plants we eat, from corn to cabbage.

In a sentence

More than 9,000 years ago, African wildcats took up chasing house mice — and started their own domestication.

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Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

domestication     A process of producing a tame version of an animal from a wild one, which can take thousands of years. A domesticated animal is one that has been bred in captivity.

fruit     A seed-containing reproductive organ in a plant.

organism     Any living thing, from elephants and plants to bacteria and other types of single-celled life.