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The Domestication of Animals and the Roots of the Anthropocene

Lee Ann Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut, How To Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), viii + 216 pp., 16 color illus., $26.00 Cloth, ISBN: 9780226444185 Richard C. Francis, Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015), xii + 484 pp., 74 b&w illus., $17.95 Paperback, ISBN: 9780393353037 Pat Shipman, The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2015), xvi + 266 pp., 23 b&w illus., $29.95 Cloth, ISBN: 9780674736764, $18.95 Paperback, ISBN: 9780674975415
  • William T. LynchEmail author
Review Essay

Books on animal domestication might seem to be naturally targeted to dog or cat fanciers, or at best to specialists on the origins of agriculture. The books under review suggest a broader interest in the topic. Themes that would interest historians of biology include animal domestication’s relevance for engaging debates in evolutionary biology over rapid evolutionary change and the possibilities of an extended evolutionary synthesis, as well as understanding the “Big History” behind the human rise to dominance over other species and the transformation of the environment begun during the Upper Paleolithic and early Neolithic. On this view, the first stage of the now trendy topic of the Anthropocene might have involved the domestication of the dog, initiating the transformation of the niches of other animals as the result of the rapid cultural evolution of a new kind of primate. At the center of these discussions is the history of a remarkable, half-century long experiment breeding tame...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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