Animal and Plant Domestication Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1396 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Animals

Animal and Plant Domestication

One of the most difficult and interesting questions posed to researchers and students alike is the longitudinal development of man. Within this question is one that is often called the basis or beginning for modern man and development overall and this is the domestication of plants and animals. It is said that the point at which humans adopted domesticated practiced of agriculture and husbandry they began to be able to move forward in development, left with more time, as a result of not being tied to hunting and gathering everything they would need to survive. (Smith 15) First, this work will address this question by summarizing the anthropological approach to domestication, briefly comparing it to the genetic research model and evaluating it as a process in the puzzle of developing a record of early man. Second, the main focus of this work will be to compare archeological evidence as it applies to the animal record and the plant record.

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There are generally two schools of thought with regard to tracing the origins of domesticated agriculture and husbandry, the archeological approach and the genetic approach, both are used to give the body of research a greater whole picture of the question, yet they are sometimes at odds with one another, as they can and often do result in differing scientific theories and results. The documentation of domestication as it is studied by the genetic school looks at the changes associated with the genetic profile, that are a result of contact with man. (M.A Zeder et al. 5) While in contrast the archeological school utilizes the culmination of archeological processes to identify locations and times associated with domestication events often relying on new technology to build a case for linear and localized changes in ancient DNA, as well as changes in the morphologies of the flora or fauna being studied, often guided by the previously understood genetic materials (8) There is no doubt that the marriage of these two approaches will greatly increase the body of knowledge of domestication of both flora and fauna.

Term Paper on Animal and Plant Domestication Assignment

The archaeological record with regard to plant domestication includes a number of variable evidences. These evidences can be sought through examination of a chain of evidence in the record. A behavioral change occurs, in the manner that people are interacting with the plant, a genetic change occurs in the plant and a morphological change occurs where the plant becomes different in the record. Utilizing this chain the archeologist can look at a whole myriad of evidence seeking everything from geological changes wrought by human intervention, such as landscape alterations that indicate agricultural clearing and a general disturbance of the area for the purpose of planting, evidence of human intervention to obtain water for irrigation as well as specific comparative changes that have occurred within the plant itself, through comparison of wild species with suspected domesticates as they appear regionally, side by side in the record. (Smith 16)

Archeologists can look at the morphological changes found in seed plants, and grain caches as well as seed grains that have been consumed and are now a part of the waste products of domestic living. (17) Seed stocks that have been found in the archaeological record give a significant clue to the nature and level of domestication, as the differences between wild plants and those that have been selected to use as seed plant seeds is significant and notable and human intervention is known to select for the change. Seeds with thinner hulls and larger bodies are selected in cultivation to generate faster results in planting. (18) the result is a morphologically different seed grain, in domesticates as apposed to wild plant seeds and this can happen rather quickly in the process, and will then be evident in seed caches meant for both planting and consumption, as well as in the refuse that is often the silver and gold of the archaeological dig. (18)

All of this information of coarse adds to the genetic field of understanding as well for the techniques developed through the genetic model are those that guide the archaeological focus. (Emshwiller 99) the alternative information offered from both archaeology and genetic… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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