Monday, September 16, 2013

Domesticated Animal

The agricultural revolution was triggered by the domestication of a single large animal. This domestication took the beast in question from a life of foraging for his food in the outdoors, to unremitting labor, poor nutrition, and living in crowded, filthy conditions rife with disease. Being poorly adapted to his new life of hard labor, we can trace the results in arthritic and other changes in the skeletons that have been preserved. Over all, domestication was a bummer for the species in question, AKA H. sapiens. The domesticator, Triticum spp., fared better. Protected from predators and competitors, watered, and ceaselessly tended, wheat went from an obscure grass with a tiny range to one of the dominant species of the world.

Such, at any rate, is the story told by Professor Yuval Noah Harari. He can hardly be faulted at the literal level. To 'domesticate,' in its root sense, means to cause to live in houses. We do, but wheat doesn't, and the blame for that is the almost constant, backbreaking (literally, again) toil it requires to tend the infernal stuff.

Perhaps whatever adaptation was achieved to domesticated status will be useful to the new masters.