Once a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs' Astonishing Genetic Evolution

Liveright: Norton. Mar. 2019. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631493799. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631493805. SCI
Sykes (human genetics, Oxford; The Seven Daughters of Eve) presents an easy-to-understand, scientific explanation for the genetic origins of dogs. He uses dogs' evolution from wolves, as proven in a pivotal 1997 paper published in Science magazine, as the jumping-off point to discuss pertinent genetic issues, such as the inheritability of diseases and the genesis of different dog breeds. Though Sykes describes himself as "not a dog person," he includes a series of interviews conducted by his wife with dog owners that detail their relationships with their beloved pets, which serves as a nice counterpoint to the preceding technical content. Reading this is like having your own personal geneticist explain complex research papers in a way that is both comprehensible and fascinating. Heavily peppered with references to scientific papers that have documented the research on dog genetics, this also serves as a wealth of further reading material.
VERDICT Rich in accessible analogies that deftly explain complex scientific concepts, this is a must-read for anybody who has wondered about the origins of humans' best friend.
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