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From giant GM salmon to beef: What animals looked like BEFORE we began breeding them for food

Records suggest that humans began raising animals about 10,000 years ago - and they looked very different from the animals we eat today.

Intensive breeding has left cows, sheep, chickens and other domesticated animals transformed into 'superbreeds' buffed up to produce more meat, and grow far more quickly.  

In the 19th century, evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin noted that breeding led to 'striking differences between farm animals and plants and their wild counterparts'.

Although this observation helped layout the foundation for Darwin's theory of evolution, it was also theorized about the future of the meat we would put on our plates.

 
Records suggest that early humans went from gathering their food to hunting it about 2 million years ago and began raising animals about 10,000 years ago. But after years of breeding, cows, sheep, chickens and other domesticated animals have transformed into creatures far different from what our ancestors ate

In 2013, a major discovery was made when animal bones and thousands of tools, used by ancient hominins, were found in Africa.

This site suggested that the killing of animals for food started at least 2 million years ago, which also indicates that meat eating could have triggered even bigger changes in the Homo species.

'Just about that time — 2 million years ago — we see big shifts in the human fossil record of increase in brain size, increase in body size and hominins leaving Africa for Eurasia,' Joseph Ferraro, an archaeologist at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, told LiveScience.

Prior to this discovery, researchers believed this shift in diet occurred 1.8 million years ago – which coincided with evidence found in Tanzania.

'We know that humans ate meat two million years ago,' said Professor Henry Bunn of Wisconsin University, who discovered early humans designed strategic hunting techniques to capture antelopes, wildebeest and other large animals.

'What was not clear was the source of that meat. 

'However, we have compared the type of prey killed by lions and leopards today with the type of prey selected by humans in those days.'

WILD TURKEYS VS. DOMESTICATED TURKEYS

Turkeys were first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mesoamerica at least 2,000 years ago. Up until the 1930s turkeys weighed about 13.2 pounds but two years ago they weighed in at 29.8 pounds. In the 1960s the average turkey weighed about 18 pounds (pictured)

Turkeys were first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mesoamerica at least 2,000 years ago. Up until the 1930s turkeys weighed about 13.2 pounds but two years ago they weighed in at 29.8 pounds. In the 1960s the average turkey weighed about 18 pounds (pictured)

Turkeys were first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mesoamerica at least 2,000 years ago.

Because male turkeys are as heavy as 50 pounds, most of the breeding on farms is done through artificial insemination.

Because male turkeys are as heavy as 50 pounds, most of the breeding on farms is done through artificial insemination.

Up until the 1930s turkeys weighed about 13.2 pounds, but two years ago the average weighed in at 29.8 pounds, reportsMother Jones.

Turkey farmers began to selectively breed them for both size and speed of growth—especially in the breast, the most popular cut in America.

Eventually these bireds would become bowlegged, because their frames couldn't support the intense growth and they could not long stand up straight.

 

Because male turkeys are as heavy as 50 pounds, most of the breeding on farms is done through artificial insemination.

Intensive farming of these birds became popular in the 1940s, which also dramatically reduced the prices.

Most turkeys on a farm are bred to have white feathers, because their pin feathers are less visible when the carcass is dressed.

But they are also raised to have brow or bronze-feathered patterns.

The National Turkey Federation reports that turkey consumption has doubled over the last 30 years—today, the average American eats 16 pounds of turkey per year.

 

'This has shown that men and women could not have been taking kill from other animals or eating those that had died of natural causes.'

'They were selecting and killing what they wanted.'

Sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and geese were among the first animals to be raised for human consumption, which occurred about 10,000 years ago, according to Ancient History Encyclopedia.

WILD CATTLE VS. DOMESTICATED CATTLE

Cattle was fist domesticated in the early Neolithic. The breeding of cattle is traced back to the 18th century and credited to Robert Bakewell , who is said to have raised Wild Cattle of Chillingham (pictured) into larger and meatier animals than their ancestors

Cattle was fist domesticated in the early Neolithic. The breeding of cattle is traced back to the 18th century and credited to Robert Bakewell , who is said to have raised Wild Cattle of Chillingham (pictured) into larger and meatier animals than their ancestors

Cattle was fist domesticated in the early Neolithic.

The most extreme example of breeding in cows is seen in the Belgian Blue (pictured), which has twice the amount of muscle than its earlier wild relatives

The most extreme example of breeding in cows is seen in the Belgian Blue (pictured), which has twice the amount of muscle than its earlier wild relatives

African Oxen were fattened by ancient Egyptians to large proportions and adorned with ostrich feathers before they were slaughtered.

The breeding of cattle is traced back to the 18th century and credited to Robert Bakewell, who is said to have raised Wild Cattle of Chillingham into larger and meatier animals than their ancestors.

The most extreme example of breeding in cows is seen in the Belgian Blue, which has twice the amount of muscle than its earlier wild relatives.

Breeding was also used to reduce infection among cows, by selective breeding humans are able to maintain the animal’s health and avoid certain diseases. 

Goats and sheep were the earliest to be bred for food (7000 BC), pigs in 6500 BC and horses were tamed by 4000 BC, a majority of them were used for work and warfare, but some cultures raised them as a food source.

Chickens were also domesticated around 10,000 years ago, but were first bred for cock fighting in Southeast Asia, reports National Geographic.

FEARS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS 

One reason the public worries about genetically modified foods is that it can trigger an allergy in humans.

Some of the genes used during the process may have been taken from other foods that people are allergic to and they have no way of knowing about it.

Another issues is other organisms in the ecosystem could be harmed, which could be followed by a lower level of biodiversity.

Some genetically modified foods use bacteria and virus, so there is a fear a new disease will emerge. 

 

Then people began to domesticate larger animals for plowing and transportation, also known as 'beast of burden'.

The easiest animals to domesticate are herbivores that graze on vegetation, because they are easiest to feed.

They do not need humans to kill other animals to feed them, or to grow special crops. 

Cows, for instance, are easily domesticated. 

These modern-day animals look very different from their wild ancestors such as the chicken that once weight just two pounds and now some hit 17 pounds.

Wild chickens also only hatched a small number of eggs once a year, while domestic chickens commonly lay 200 or more eggs each year. 

 

Breeders use numerous techniques for breeding animals, such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer.

Not only do these methods guarantee females reproduce regularly but they also help improve herd genetics.

WILD CHICKENS VS. DOMESTICATED CHICKENS 

Domestication of the chicken dates back to 2000 BC and all can be traced back to four species of wild jungle fowl (pictured) from Southeast Asia. Today, more than 50 billion chickens are raised annually as a source of food and a huge majority of them are raised in factory farms

Domestication of the chicken dates back to 2000 BC and all can be traced back to four species of wild jungle fowl (pictured) from Southeast Asia. Today, more than 50 billion chickens are raised annually as a source of food and a huge majority of them are raised in factory farms

Domestication of the chicken dates back to 2000 BC and can all be traced back to four species of wild jungle fowl from Southeast Asia, according to Penn State University.

A modern meat chicken weighs up to three kilograms: almost double the size of a chicken from 60 years ago

A modern meat chicken weighs up to three kilograms: almost double the size of a chicken from 60 years ago

Today, more than 50 billion chickens are raised annually as a source of food and a huge majority of them are raised in factory farms.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way and there are many ethical issues surround this method.

Incubation can successfully occur artificially in machines that provide the correct, controlled environment for the developing chick.

Broiler chickens have been selectively bred since the 1950s to produce meat quickly– specifically breast meat.

A modern meat chicken weighs up to three kilograms: almost double the size of a chicken from 60 years ago. 

And their breasts are 80 percent larger.

This may be done by transplanting embryos from high-quality females into lower-quality surrogate mothers - freeing up the higher-quality mother to be re-impregnated.

This practice vastly increases the number of offspring which may be produced by a small selection of the best quality parent animals. 

Animals aren't the only ones who have changed, the human body has also been affected by meat in their diets.

WILD SHEEP VS. DOMESTICATED SHEEP 

Domestic sheep are said to have come from the wild mouflon (pictured) from Mesopotamia around 11000 and 9000 BC. Sheep are among the first animals to become domesticated by humans. Robert Bakewell also worked in breeding these animals and would raise them to be big, delicate bone sheep

Domestic sheep are said to have come from the wild mouflon (pictured) from Mesopotamia around 11000 and 9000 BC. Sheep are among the first animals to become domesticated by humans. Robert Bakewell also worked in breeding these animals and would raise them to be big, delicate bone sheep

Domestic sheep are believed to have come from the wild mouflon from Mesopotamia around 11000 and 9000 BC.

Sheep are among the first animals to become domesticated by humans.

They began to develop more wool and less hair and the colour of the wool and hair changed from brown and shades to whites and black
 

They began to develop more wool and less hair and the colour of the wool and hair changed from brown and shades to whites and black

Robert Bakewell also worked with breeding these animals and would raise them to be big, delicate boned sheep, with high-quality fleece and large foreheads.

As sheep were raised under tamed conditions, they went through several changes.

They began to develop more wool and less hair and the colour of the wool and hair changed from brown and shades to whites and black.

Their ears became more of a lop ear than an erect ears and their horns that the wild sheep possessed were weakened and disappeared from many breeds.

The tails of wild sheep had less vertebrates or bones than the sheep do now. And today's sheep has a smaller brain.

For instance, our jaws have decreased in size and we are able to process cholesterol and fat.

Researchers suggest that the switch from gatherers to hunters, triggered a genetic change that enhanced the process of eating fats, reports National Geographic News.

WILD BOARS VS PIGS 

Researchers believe that our modern-day pigs were domesticated from the wild boar (pictured) found in parts of Asia and Europe. Europe began taming these animals 11,000 years ago and birthed the movement throughout the rest of the world

Researchers believe that our modern-day pigs were domesticated from the wild boar (pictured) found in parts of Asia and Europe. Europe began taming these animals 11,000 years ago and birthed the movement throughout the rest of the world

Researchers believe that our modern-day pigs were domesticated from the wild boar found in parts of Asia and Europe.

Pigs (pictured) weigh about 300 and 700 pounds, but a record was made in 2012 by a bred pig that weighed in at 1,335 pounds

Pigs (pictured) weigh about 300 and 700 pounds, but a record was made in 2012 by a bred pig that weighed in at 1,335 pounds

Europe began taming these animals 11,000 years ago and birthed the movement throughout the rest of the world.

In some developing countries, these animals are allowed to roam free in the woods while being raised for food.

But, in the US domestic pigs are raised in intensive pig farms, which results in low cost but cruelty towards these animals.

Wild pigs vary greatly in size and weight. The largest boar is the giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni). It grows up to 6.9 feet (2.1 meters) long, reports LiveScience.

Pigs weigh about 300 and 700 pounds, but a record was made in 2012 by a bred pig that weighed in at 1,335 pounds. 

 

 

 

Technology has also come a long way since the adaption of meat into the human diet.

In 2013, authorities in the US granted approvals for the world's first genetically modified fish, the Aquabounty salmon, which has had its genes altered so that it grows twice as fast as a normal fish.

Aquabounty salmon is produced through the insertion into the eggs of wild Atlantic salmon of a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon, as well as a gene from a different type of fish called the ocean Eelpout.

WILD SALMON VS. GENETICALLY MODIFIED SALMON 

The genetically modified salmon is pumped full of a gene , which is said to be harmless to humans, that speeds up the growing process ¿ and also makes it much larger than a wild salmon (pictured) 

The genetically modified salmon is pumped full of a gene , which is said to be harmless to humans, that speeds up the growing process – and also makes it much larger than a wild salmon (pictured) 

In 2013, authorities in the US granted approvals for the world's first genetically modified fish, the Aquabounty salmon, which has had its genes altered so that it grows twice as fast as a normal fish.

Last year, US heath regulators cleared the way for it to be farmed for human consumption. These creatures were bred to meet the demand (pictured), as they do not grow fast in the wild

Last year, US heath regulators cleared the way for it to be farmed for human consumption. These creatures were bred to meet the demand (pictured), as they do not grow fast in the wild

Aquabounty salmon is produced through the insertion into the eggs of wild Atlantic salmon of a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon, as well as a gene from a different type of fish called the ocean eelpout.

This makes the salmon produce growth hormone all year round, rather than just during the warmer months.

And last year, US heath regulators cleared the way for it to be farmed for human consumption.

These creatures were bred to meet the demand, as they do not grow fast in the wild.

The genetically modified salmon is pumped full of a gene, which is said to be harmless to humans, that speeds up the growing process – and also makes it much larger than a wild salmon.

This makes the salmon produce growth hormone all year round, rather than just during the warmer months.

And last year, US heath regulators cleared the way for it to be farmed for human consumption.

Recently, a start-up announced it should have animal-free products on the market in three to four yeast and unveiled the first lab-grown meatball.

Memphis Meat is designing a full line of product that will include hot dogs, sausages, burgers and meatballs.

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