A monument to laboratory rats and mice

This sculpture, by artist Andrew Kharkevich, sits near Russia's Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia's third most populous city and the most populous city in Siberia. The sculpture is meant to commemorate lab animals who have been killed as part of our ongoing attempts to understand the nature and workings of DNA. It reminds me a bit of Mrs. Frisby. Which might be intentional, who knows.

The Institute, however, is popularly associated with a very different animal — the silver fox. This is the place where Russian researchers instituted a breeding program, now more than 50 years old, aimed at creating a domesticated animal, similar to a dog, from the previously wild fox. The animals have been sold as pets in a scheme to help fund the Institute, but the main purpose was to investigate the physiology of domestication — what made some wild animals more tame than others and how their offspring changed in comparison to wild cousins.

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