Differences Between Domestic Animals and Wild Animals - Other

Differences Between Domestic Animals and Wild Animals   by Animal Husbandry

in Other    (submitted 2011-10-08)

When men gave up their nomadic life and settled down, men took up animal husbandry. Animals were domesticated to meet human needs. Over generations, domesticated animals have transformed and become very different from their wild ancestors.

At the first stage of domestication, men did not make a random selection of animals. There were a lot of factors involved in their consideration. Only animals that exhibited the following characteristics were selected for successful domestication:

Animals that consume food of low cost and easily supplied by humans

Animals that are reproductive and have high growth rates

Animals that can mate and breed in containment

Animals that exhibit calm and predictable behavior

Animals that are friendly towards humans

Animals that enjoy cooperative group living

Those are the reasons why dogs were selected to help humans initially in hunting and gathering and later in taking care of animals on the farms. Those are also the reason why cats were selected to help humans guard their food.

Pigs, cows, sheep, horses, goats and chickens also met the selection criteria. They were adopted and domesticated to give men food, labor and many other products.

In their practice of animal husbandry, farmers have transformed farm animals and the way they live. Animals are kept in captivity, bred, fed and raised by humans. More female animals are kept than male animals to serve reproductive purposes. Only a small number of large male animals with desirable qualities are kept for breeding. Most of the male animals are slaughtered after a young age. In some cases, male animals such as horses and buffalos are kept to provide labor on the farm. Otherwise, they will be slaughtered to provide meat and other products such as leather and wool for humans.

With the intervention of humans, domesticated animals have become genetically different from wild animals. Domestic animals have developed characteristics favorable to their mutual existence with humans. Compared to their wild ancestors, domestic species often have smaller size, smaller teeth and heavier weight. This is probably because their need to fight for survival in the wild has been diminished. Most domesticated animals are raised to provide meat. Thus, they are well-fed by humans and become fatter than their ancestors.

Take one animal that has been domesticated by humans for thousands of years for example. Farm pigs originate from wild boars. Nowadays, farm pigs have developed a lot of characteristics that are different from their ancestors. All wild boars have tusks (long pointed teeth that come out from their mouth). These tusks help to protect them from predators. Domesticated pigs have lost their use for these tusks. Thus, nowadays, we can hardly find any tusks on farm pigs. Domestic pigs are also fatter and much less muscular than their wild counterparts. Wild roars have longer legs and bigger snouts than farm pigs. These characteristics help wild pigs run faster and allow them better scenting ability, which are no longer necessary for domesticated pigs.

It is undeniable that domesticated animals and wild animals share their ancestors, and thus still sharing a lot of common features. However, since humans adopted certain animals in their practice of animal husbandry, domesticated animals have become hugely different from their wild counterparts. These changes did not take place overnight. They took place only after thousands of years and have changed these animals not only by their look but also genetically.