Topic: Russia/physical geography of Russia

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Belyayev's Fox Experiment

Biography Soviet Union Russia Biology Biography/science and academia Russia/science and education in Russia Genetics Russia/physical geography of Russia

Dmitry Konstantinovich Belyayev (Russian: Дми́трий Константи́нович Беля́ев, 17 July 1917 – 14 November 1985) was a Russian geneticist and academician who served as director of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (IC&G) of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, from 1959 to 1985. His decades-long effort to breed domesticated foxes was described by The New York Times as “arguably the most extraordinary breeding experiment ever conducted.” A 2010 article in Scientific American stated that Belyayev “may be the man most responsible for our understanding of the process by which wolves were domesticated into our canine companions.”

Beginning in the 1950s, in order to uncover the genetic basis of the distinctive behavioral and physiological attributes of domesticated animals, Belyayev and his team spent decades breeding the wild silver fox (Vulpes vulpes) and selecting for reproduction only those individuals in each generation that showed the least fear of humans. After several generations of controlled breeding, a majority of the silver foxes no longer showed any fear of humans and often wagged their tails and licked their human caretakers to show affection. They also began to display spotted coats, floppy ears, curled tails, as well as other physical attributes often found in domesticated animals, thus confirming Belyayev’s hypothesis that both the behavioral and physical traits of domesticated animals could be traced to "a collection of genes that conferred a propensity to tameness—a genotype that the foxes perhaps shared with any species that could be domesticated".

Belyayev’s experiments were the result of a politically motivated demotion, in response to defying the now discredited non-Mendellian theories of Lysenkoism, which were politically accepted in the Soviet Union at the time. Belyayev has since been vindicated in recent years by major scientific journals, and by the Soviet establishment as a pioneering figure in modern genetics.

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Russian Domesticated Red Fox

Russia Dogs Russia/science and education in Russia Genetics Russia/physical geography of Russia Russia/economy of Russia

The Russian domesticated red fox is a form of the wild red fox (Vulpes vulpes) which has been domesticated to an extent, under laboratory conditions. They are the result of an experiment which was designed to demonstrate the power of selective breeding to transform species, as described by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species. The experiment was purposely designed to replicate the process that had produced dogs from wolves, by recording the changes in foxes, when in each generation only the most tame foxes were allowed to breed. In short order, the descendant foxes became tamer and more dog-like in their behavior.

The program was started in 1959 in the Soviet Union by zoologist Dmitry Belyayev and it has been in continuous operation since. Today, the experiment is under the supervision of Lyudmila Trut, in Russia, at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk.

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The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Soviet Union Russia Death Guild of Copy Editors Russia/physical geography of Russia Russia/history of Russia Russia/sports and games in Russia

The Dyatlov Pass incident (Russian: Гибель тургруппы Дятлова) was an event where nine Russian hikers died in the northern Ural Mountains between 1 and 2 February 1959, in uncertain circumstances. The experienced trekking group, who were all from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, had established a camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl, in an area now named in honor of the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov. During the night, something caused them to tear their way out of their tents and flee the campsite, all while inadequately dressed for the heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.

After the group's bodies were discovered, an investigation by Soviet authorities determined that six had died from hypothermia while the other three showed signs of physical trauma. One victim had a fractured skull; two others had major chest fractures and the body of one of the group was missing both its eyes. One of the victims was missing a tongue. The investigation concluded that a "compelling natural force" had caused the deaths. Numerous theories have been put forward to account for the unexplained deaths, including animal attacks, hypothermia, avalanche, katabatic winds, infrasound-induced panic, military involvement, or some combination of these.

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Kostroma Moose Farm

Russia Agriculture Food and drink Russia/physical geography of Russia Russia/economy of Russia

Kostroma Moose Farm (Russian: Костромска́я лосефе́рма) is an experimental farm in Kostroma Oblast, Russia, where a herd of moose is kept, primarily for milk production; the farm supplies moose's milk to a nearby sanitorium. It is located near the village of Sumarokovo in Krasnoselsky District of Kostroma Oblast, some 25 km east of the city of Kostroma.

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Street dogs in Moscow learn to ride the subway

Russia Dogs Russia/physical geography of Russia

The city of Moscow, Russia hosts a large population of free-ranging dogs. Many operate in packs and have become accustomed to seeking food from passersby. Some of them who frequent or inhabit the subway have attracted international attention for learning how to use the trains to commute between various locations.

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Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states

Russia Russia/mass media in Russia Central Asia Insects Ukraine Russia/physical geography of Russia Russia/history of Russia Belarus

Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states refers to observations that there has been a rapid disappearance of various types of cockroaches since the beginning of the 21st century in Russia and other countries of the former USSR. Various factors have been suggested as causes of the depopulation.

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