Crabtree, Pam J. Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Agricultural revolution
- Methods of study
- Centers of domestication in the Middle East
- Plant cultivation
- Animal domestication
- Other early centers of domestication
- Centers of domestication in the Americas
- Highland South America
- Eastern South America and eastern North America
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The adaptation of an animal or plant through breeding in captivity to a life intimately associated with and advantageous to humans. Domesticated plants and animals differ genetically and morphologically from their wild counterparts, often in ways that make them more useful to humans. For example, wild sheep are hairy, but domesticated sheep are woolly. Dogs are the earliest known domestic animals. They were domesticated in the Eastern Hemisphere and may have accompanied early Native Americans into the New World. Some of the other early domesticated animals are sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs, which were domesticated in the Old World, and llamas and alpacas, which were domesticated in the Americas. Important early domesticated plants include cereals (wheat, barley, rice, sorghum, and millet in the Old World and maize in the Americas) and tubers (such as yams and taro in the Old World and potatoes in the Americas). Other important domesticated plants include pulses, olives, cotton, flax, and fruits. Domesticated plants and animals provide humans with a variety of useful products, including food and fibers, and serve important functions, such as animal traction [that is, the use of animals to pull carts and plows (Fig. 1)] and transport. See also: Agricultural science (animal); Agricultural science (plant); Agriculture; Animal breeding; Anthropology; Plant breeding
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