The World’s First Genetically Domesticated Foxes

In a canid report for Verge Science, writer/producer William Poor talks about a 60 year old experiment by Dmitri Belyayev, a Russian zoologist who sought to create domesticated fox companions by using selective behavior traits in breeding.

A number of the descended results of this experiment wound up on a ranch near San Diego, California, where they live with Amy and David Bassett. The Bassetts have grown to understand these domesticated vulpines, but note this genetic domestication is something very different than that found in traditional pets. While the foxes are friendly enough, they are not affectionate in the way that that dogs are. This question is part of the ongoing study, which is now being overseen by Lyudmila Trut at the Evolution Institute.

We meet the very cute and very bizarre result of an almost 60-year-long experiment: they’re foxes that have been specially bred for their dog-like friendliness toward people. We do a little behavior research of our own, and discover what scientists continue to learn from the world’s most famous experiment in domestication.