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Hi, I was trying to write a paragraph about fox domestication the other day, but couldn't come up with a satisfactory description of the phenomenon I tried to encapsulate in the sentences below. Please look at the following sentences:

- After being bred in captivity for only a few generations, recently-born foxes began to develop different pelt colors, just like their close relative, the domestic dog.

- After only a few generations of being bred in captivity, a variation in pelt coloration arose among recently-born foxes, not unlike that of their close relative, the domestic dog.

- After only a few generations of being bred in captivity, there started to be a variation in pelt coloration among recently-born foxes, not unlike that of their close relative, the domestic dog.

I'm especially curious to know what you think of my third sentence. I generally tend to avoid using constructions that begin with "there started" because they sound weird to my ears (i.e. a bit stilted.) Am I the only one thinking that? Is there anything else you would say differently? Please explain.
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Hi Marvin,

This is a challenge. There's potential for ambiguity. Does "recently-born" mean "newborn" or "recent generations"? Did newborns begin to develop new/different coloration patterns as then matured, or did new/different coloration patterns begin to appear in succeeding generations?

Being a bit stilted myself, I'm not offended by "there started to appear."

- A.
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MarvinTheMartianI'm especially curious to know what you think of my third sentence. I generally tend to avoid using constructions that begin with "there started" because they sound weird to my ears (i.e. a bit stilted.) Am I the only one thinking that? Is there anything else you would say differently? Please explain.
How about this alternative? "After only a few generations of captive breeding foxes develop variations in pelt coloration not unlike that of their close relative the domestic dog."

I don't see any need to specify "recently-born" since it's clear from the context that we are talking about the current generation of foxes.
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Comments  
RayHAfter only a few generations of captive breeding foxes develop variations in pelt coloration not unlike that of their close relative the domestic dog.
I think it's perfect.
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RayHAfter only a few generations of captive breeding foxes develop variations in pelt coloration not unlike that of their close relative the domestic dog.
I think it's perfect.