Why and how

We have to appreciate that the first breeders of domestic animals did not have any instructions and they were not able to imagine where domestication would lead. It is assumed that the initial reasons motivating domestication were frequently different from the animals' subsequent use. However, the main reason was very simply to access a supply of food. Exceptions are cats and dogs, which became partners to people, and later assumed many other roles, such as dogs becoming guardians. Even though of various origins, the domestication scenarios of most animals were analogous and evolved in three main steps. First came capturing and holding a wild animal in captivity (mostly young animals, when their mothers were killed in the hunt), followed by gradual taming and herding. The third phase was breeding, where humans started to generate animals according to their needs or beliefs that they were improving certain desirable qualities (intensive livestock husbandry). Sometimes it was a spontaneous process when the animal connected to a human on a voluntary basis (dog, cat, pigeon), or when the human connected to the animal (rein-

Black miniature donkey and foal. People have used donkeys for riding, driving, and pulling for centuries. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Renee Stockdale. Reproduced by permission.)

deer). Other species were barely tamed (wild ox, horse, ass). Domestication was a lengthy process; it is generally believed that the shorter the developmental cycle of an animal, the quicker the change of generations and, therefore, the shorter the domestication process.

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