modification by humans of wild forms of animals or plants for coexistence with them

Domestication is a change that happens in wild animals or plants, when they are kept by humans for a long time. The Latin term literally means "to make it suitable for home".

Cattle in Ancient Egypt

If humans take wild animals and plants and keep and breed them, over time the animals and plants may change. The animals and plants become dependent on the humans who keep them, and they change in ways that are better for human use. This change (domestication) happens by humans choosing which animals will breed the next generation. Biologists call this method artificial selection.

The first domestication of plants happened during the first use of agriculture. Humans first domesticated dogs. In the Neolithic revolution, people domesticated sheep and goats, and later cattle and pigs.

Domesticated plants are crops or ornamental plants. People use domesticated animals as livestock, that is for food, clothing, and work. Otherwise, the domesticated animals may be kept as pets.

Domesticated plants


The first evidence of plant domestication comes from wheat found in pre-Pottery Neolithic villages in Southwest Asia. They are dated at 10,500 to 10,100 BC.[1] The Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and India were sites of the earliest planned sowing and harvesting of plants.[2]

Agriculture developed independently in a number of places at different times.[1] The eight Neolithic founder crops (emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chickpeas and flax) had all appeared by about 7000 BC.[3]

Domesticated animals


Origin of the dog


The origin of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) began with the domestication of the grey wolf (Canis lupus) several tens of thousands of years ago.[4][5][6] Domesticated dogs provided early humans with a guard animal, a source of food, fur, and a working animal (hunting, pulling sleds). The process continues to this day.

Archaeology has placed the earliest known domestication at possibly 30,000 BC,[4][5] and with certainty at 7,000 BC.[6] Other evidence suggests that dogs were first domesticated in East Asia.[7]

Perhaps the earliest clear cultural evidence for this domestication is the first dog found buried together with humans, 12,000 years ago in Palestine.[8][9]

Other animals


Cats were also domesticated quite early.[10][11] At the beginning of agriculture, people started to domesticate sheep and goats, and later pigs and cattle. Other animals that were domesticated early are camels, donkeys and horses. Some animals, like the domestic rabbit, were only domesticated in recent times.

Many other animals which have been artificially selected by humans over a long period, not simply living with humans. The list is not intended to be complete.






Bonobos are less aggressive than chimpanzees

Self-domestication refers to an evolutionary process in which aggressive behavior is selected against, which makes a species less aggressive and more friendly and social. Bonobos, who share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, show far less aggression than chimpanzees. It is thought that bonobos have become 'self domesticated' due to female bonobos only reproducing with the more gentle males. This process may also apply to humans, who are very social compared to other species.[12]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Zohary, Daniel Hopf, Maria Weiss, Ehud 2012. Domestication. Oxford University Press.
  2. Root, Clive 2007. Domestication of plants in the Old World. Greenwood.
  3. Colledge, Sue & Conolly, James 2007. The origins and spread of domestic plants in southwest Asia and Europe, p40.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dienekes' Anthropology Blog : Dog domestication in the Aurignacian (c. 32kyBP)
  5. 5.0 5.1 MSNBC : World's first dog lived 31,700 years ago, ate big
  6. 6.0 6.1 Scott, John Paul & Fuller, John L. 1974. Dog behavior: the genetic basis. 2nd ed, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226743387. ISBN 0-226-74338-1, ISBN 978-0-226-74338-7. p54]
  7. Savolainen, Peter; et al. (2002-11-22). "Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs". Science. 298 (5598): 1610–3. Bibcode:2002Sci...298.1610S. doi:10.1126/science.1073906. PMID 12446907. S2CID 32583311.
  8. James Serpell 1995. The domestic dog: its evolution, behaviour, and interactions with people. Cambridge University Press. p10-12
  9. SJM Davis and FR Valla 1978. Evidence for domestication of the dog 12,000 years ago in the Natufian of Palestine, Nature 276, 608-610.
  10. "Oldest known pet cat? 9500-Year-Old burial found on Cyprus". National Geographic News. 2004-04-08. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
  11. Carlos A. Driscoll; Juliet Clutton-Brock; Andrew C. Kitchener; Stephen J. O'Brien (June 2009). "The evolution of house cats". Scientific American.
  12. Wrangham, Richard (2019-01-17). The Goodness Paradox: How Evolution Made Us Both More and Less Violent. Profile Books. pp. Preface. ISBN 978-1-78283-221-8.