Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Poodles are man-made creatures. There were no packs of wild poodles roaming the African savannah, hunting antelope. Poodles were created by humans, through breeding, over thousands of years. They act and look very different from wolves because we bred them for appearance retrieving and, recently, appearance (edit: corrected, thanks to Simon Proctor's comment below). That's where we focused our energies, and it shows.

Packs of poodles did not roam Africa
photo by jonner on flickr

Cows are also man-made creatures. Let me clarify: the cows we milk and eat are man-made creatures. We've created them through breeding, over ten thousand years. They look similar to wild cattle (now extinct) because we bred them for what's on the inside. We've made them smaller and more docile. We've made them produce more milk. We've made them produce more meat. We've also altered their appearance, but not as much as we've done for poodles. There were no herds of black-and-white mottled cows roaming across Asia.

Cattle are strangely colored
photo by hockadilly on flickr

So that's my random thought for the day: cows are like poodles. They're man-made creatures.

Labels:

4 comments:

Simon Proctor wrote at Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 1:31:00 AM PDT

I would say that it's not that Poodles choice to look like a twat. As someone who grew up with a standard poodle as a pet they are one of the smartest breeds of dogs. They weren't bred for appearance but as hunting dogs.
Their think curly hair, unlike most dogs, doesn't shed and needs to be regularly trimmed. Something our dog found most agreeable and after it was done she would run around showing off.
The pictured cut is a very intense version of the original cut where the hair was kept long on the legs and head to keep the dogs legs an head dry and warm went it was sent into lakes to retrieve ducks.

My point is I agree totally with your point, that we bred both dogs for a purpose. I just feel you have picked the poodle as a figure of fun that man 'bred for appearance' when actually we bred them to help us hunt for food. It was only later that we decided, for some unknown and bizarre reason, that pink was a good colour for them.

Sorry if this has been something of a rant, but as I say I had a pet poodle, she was wonderful and I get a bit annoyed when I hear them disparaged in this way.

Amit wrote at Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 4:01:00 AM PDT

Thanks Simon! You're right. I picked poodles because recent breeding seems to have been for appearance, but most of its history was breeding for other reasons. I just couldn't resist the pink poodle image :-)

JB wrote at Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 1:48:00 PM PDT

I feel like nowadays everything becomes just an extension of "the men", yes we breed animals to serve us, but we also did it with plants, and basically with any living creature, then we killed the "hostile" living forms (just compare the amount of living mammals in Europe vs North America vs South America), but that was just the beginning, then we started to build roads because we wanted to travel fast, then one day we realized we could move even a mountain if we wanted so we did, weather bugging? no problem, we can FIX it! , guess what will happen when scientist really know how to program DNA in the way when can program in C?,
oh dear i think my mind had a "general protection failure", press any key to restart.... :)

Amit wrote at Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 5:43:00 PM PDT

Yes, we did the same with plants. Over thousands of years we changed the genes in teosinte grass, which has ~10 tiny kernels each protected in a hard shell (which allows it to spread), into maize/corn, which has ~500 large juicy kennels without a hard shell. We didn't kill off the original teosinte; it's just that it didn't spread outside it's native habitat of Mexico. Other plants have similar histories I'm guessing.

I think once we are programming the DNA directly instead of randomly throwing thousands of mutations into the mix, there will be a lot more variations with far fewer genetic defects (for example in dogs there are problems with hips, hearing, throats, eyes, knees).