How To Tame A Fox And Build A Dog

Author: Lee Alan Dugatkin
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022644421X
Size: 29.83 MB
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Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken—imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time in order to witness the process of domestication. This is the extraordinary, untold story of this remarkable undertaking. Most accounts of the natural evolution of wolves place it over a span of about 15,000 years, but within a decade, Belyaev and Trut’s fox breeding experiments had resulted in puppy-like foxes with floppy ears, piebald spots, and curly tails. Along with these physical changes came genetic and behavioral changes, as well. The foxes were bred using selection criteria for tameness, and with each generation, they became increasingly interested in human companionship. Trut has been there the whole time, and has been the lead scientist on this work since Belyaev’s death in 1985, and with Lee Dugatkin, biologist and science writer, she tells the story of the adventure, science, politics, and love behind it all. In How to Tame a Fox, Dugatkin and Trut take us inside this path-breaking experiment in the midst of the brutal winters of Siberia to reveal how scientific history is made and continues to be made today. To date, fifty-six generations of foxes have been domesticated, and we continue to learn significant lessons from them about the genetic and behavioral evolution of domesticated animals. How to Tame a Fox offers an incredible tale of scientists at work, while also celebrating the deep attachments that have brought humans and animals together throughout time.

Improbable Destinies

Author: Jonathan Losos
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 0241201942
Size: 50.80 MB
Format: PDF
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A dazzling tour of evolution in action that sheds light on one of the greatest debates in science The natural world is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. Convergence suggests that evolution is predictable, and if we could replay the tape of life, we would get the same outcome. But there are also many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course. So are we humans, and all the plants and animals in the world today, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? What role does chance play in evolution? And what could it tell us about life on other planets? In Improbable Destinies, renowned researcher Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. Evolution can occur far more rapidly than Darwin expected, which has opened the door to something that was previously thought impossible: experimental studies of evolution in nature. Drawing on his own work with anole lizards on the Caribbean islands, as well as studies of guppies, foxes, field mice and others being conducted around the world, Losos reveals just how rapid and predictable evolution can be. By charting the discoveries of the scientists who are rewriting our understanding of evolutionary biology, Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution.

Why We Believe

Author: Agustin Fuentes
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 030024925X
Size: 14.21 MB
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A wide-ranging argument by a renowned anthropologist that the capacity to believe is what makes us human Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities. But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that the capacity to be religious is actually a small part of a larger and deeper human capacity to believe. Why believe in religion, economies, love? A fascinating intervention into some of the most common misconceptions about human nature, this book employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief—the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea—is central to the human way of being in the world.

The Goodness Paradox

Author: Richard Wrangham
Publisher: Pantheon
ISBN: 1101870915
Size: 75.38 MB
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“A fascinating new analysis of human violence, filled with fresh ideas and gripping evidence from our primate cousins, historical forebears, and contemporary neighbors.” —Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature We Homo sapiens can be the nicest of species and also the nastiest. What occurred during human evolution to account for this paradox? What are the two kinds of aggression that primates are prone to, and why did each evolve separately? How does the intensity of violence among humans compare with the aggressive behavior of other primates? How did humans domesticate themselves? And how were the acquisition of language and the practice of capital punishment determining factors in the rise of culture and civilization? Authoritative, provocative, and engaging, The Goodness Paradox offers a startlingly original theory of how, in the last 250 million years, humankind became an increasingly peaceful species in daily interactions even as its capacity for coolly planned and devastating violence remains undiminished. In tracing the evolutionary histories of reactive and proactive aggression, biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham forcefully and persuasively argues for the necessity of social tolerance and the control of savage divisiveness still haunting us today.

The Animal S Companion

Author: Jacky Colliss Harvey
Publisher: Hachette UK
ISBN: 0316466182
Size: 74.32 MB
Format: PDF
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A unique, compelling exploration of the universal human need for animal companions -- from dogs and cats to horses, birds, house-rabbits, and even exotica such as lizards and snakes -- through the eyes of an historical detective and devoted pet-lover. The earliest evidence of a human and a pet can be traced as far back as 26,000 BC in France, where a boy and his "canid" took a walk through a cave. Their foot and paw prints were preserved together on the muddy cave floor, and smoke from the torch the boy carried was left on the walls, allowing archaeologists to carbon-date their journey. Our innate and undeniable need to live in the close company of animals is evident since pre-historic times. In The Animal's Companion, bestselling author, acclaimed cultural detective and lifelong pet owner Jacky Colliss Harvey uses her compelling storytelling skills and keen eye for historical investigation to examine our role as animals' companions, in this exploration of the history not of the pet, but of us as pet owners. Drawing on literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence over thousands of years of human experience, she examines the when, the how, and the why of our connection to those animals we take into our lives, assessing these against the latest scientific thinking, and suggesting new insights into this most long-standing of all human love affairs.