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.

cynoclub/istockphoto

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.