Trichoglyphs, Behavioral Traits, and a Russian Fox

Who would think the common hair whorl could spawn such genetic and behavioral implications?Trichoglyphs, or hair whorls in horses and cows and the direction of the whorl can predict certain behaviors such as left and right handedness and temperament. The higher the hair whorl in a horse, the more flighty and unpredictable the horses behavior. Dressage and jumping horses tend to be highly athletic and ambidextrous and double hair whorls are common in the sport. The clockwise or counterclockwise rotation of the whorl can also determine handedness in horses, and in K9’s making dog selection for guide and service dogs an important predictor in success. Right eye dominant dogs are less distractible when being led, and choosing the correct dog for such purposes can save time and training costs. “Dogs are both left- and right-handed, he explained, and this has an influence on their selection as guide dogs for the blind because the dogs are trained to work on a person’s left side. He cited a 2012 study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research that showed that success was higher for right-preferent and ambidextrous dogs, and that the presence of a whorl on the dog’s left side of the head and thorax was associated with a right visual bias.

Abnormal and multiple trichoglyphs are common in birth defects in humans. Most notable in correlation with brain function abnormality. Hair follicle develops at the same time and from the same material as brain development in embryos.

Russian Fox Experiment

Dmitri K. Belyaev, a Russian scientist, may be the man most responsible for our understanding of the process by which wolves were domesticated into our canine companions. Article Here

Belyaev domesticated 40 generations of silver fox, retaining only foxes with mild temeperment towards human interaction. Not only did the foxes eventually behave like domestic dogs, but their physical characteristics changed as well. Drooping ears, changes in fur and odors were significant as well as cranial and jaw structures.

“Even Darwin noted, in On the Origin of Species, that “not a single domestic animal can be named which has not, in some country, drooping ears.” Drooping ears is a feature that does not ever occur in the wild, except for in elephants. And domesticated animals possess characteristic changes in behavior compared with their wild brethren, such as a willingness or even an eagerness to hang out with humans. If you don’t think evolution is possible, look at how one simple seemingly harmless invisible trait can virtually change the whole animal in a relatively short time frame.

What about us?

As we began our own “domestication” process 12,500 years ago, what were we like? Who were we? What changes in physical features and thought have happened to us? What caused us to collaborate our superstitions into groups defending and promoting a god? Has “civilizing” turned us superstitious and neurotic, or were we always that way?