How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)

Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)

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.

Why We Believe

Evolution and the Human Way of Being

Why We Believe

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.

Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose

Natural History in Early America

Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose

In the years after the Revolutionary War, the fledgling republic of America was viewed by many Europeans as a degenerate backwater, populated by subspecies weak and feeble. Chief among these naysayers was the French Count and world-renowned naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who wrote that the flora and fauna of America (humans included) were inferior to European specimens. Thomas Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. president, and ardent naturalist—spent years countering the French conception of American degeneracy. His Notes on Virginia systematically and scientifically dismantled Buffon’s case through a series of tables and equally compelling writing on the nature of his home state. But the book did little to counter the arrogance of the French and hardly satisfied Jefferson’s quest to demonstrate that his young nation was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Enter the giant moose. The American moose, which Jefferson claimed was so enormous a European reindeer could walk under it, became the cornerstone of his defense. Convinced that the sight of such a magnificent beast would cause Buffon to revise his claims, Jefferson had the remains of a seven-foot ungulate shipped first class from New Hampshire to Paris. Unfortunately, Buffon died before he could make any revisions to his Histoire Naturelle, but the legend of the moose makes for a fascinating tale about Jefferson’s passion to prove that American nature deserved prestige. In Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, Lee Alan Dugatkin vividly recreates the origin and evolution of the debates about natural history in America and, in so doing, returns the prize moose to its rightful place in American history.

Principles of Animal Behavior, 4th Edition

Principles of Animal Behavior, 4th Edition

Since the last edition of this definitive textbook was published in 2013, much has happened in the field of animal behavior. In this fourth edition, Lee Alan Dugatkin draws on cutting-edge new work not only to update and expand on the studies presented, but also to reinforce the previous editions’ focus on ultimate and proximate causation, as well as the book’s unique emphasis on natural selection, learning, and cultural transmission. The result is a state-of-the-art textbook on animal behavior that explains underlying concepts in a way that is both scientifically rigorous and accessible to students. Each chapter in the book provides a sound theoretical and conceptual basis upon which the empirical studies rest. A completely new feature in this edition are the Cognitive Connection boxes in Chapters 2–17, designed to dig deep into the importance of the cognitive underpinnings to many types of behaviors. Each box focuses on a specific issue related to cognition and the particular topic covered in that chapter. As Principles of Animal Behavior makes clear, the tapestry of animal behavior is created from weaving all of these components into a beautiful whole. With Dugatkin’s exquisitely illustrated, comprehensive, and up-to-date fourth edition, we are able to admire that beauty anew.

Pushinka the Barking Fox

A True Story of Unexpected Friendship

Pushinka the Barking Fox

"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." -- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry In the harsh, frozen Siberian landscape, a scientist and a fox began a most unusual friendship--one that changed our understanding of human-animal relationships forever. In 1959, the world-renowned Siberian silver fox domestication experiment began, exploring the boundaries of relationships between humans and animals. Fifteen years into the experiment, lead researcher Dr. Lyudmila Trut met Pushinka, a beautiful silver fox pup who would become her near constant companion. So taken was she by Pushinka, Lyudmila decided to take the experiment a step further by moving into a small house with Pushinka, allowing for closer observation and more constant interaction between scientist and fox. As the seasons changed, so too did Pushinka, and she began to act more like a dog. Wild foxes do not play fetch, or wag their tails, or bark in defense of their friends, but Pushinka did. Soon, the two grew to know and love one another through trials in motherhood, relationship tests, and endless of games of fetch. Love, you see, changes us. Lyudmila and Pushinka's true story is one that weaves together the scientific and the emotional, demonstrating that even in the coldest places on earth, there is warmth.

The Book of Nature

Embracing a Condensed Survey of the Animal Kingdom as Well as Sketches of Vegetable, Anatomy, Geology, Botany, Mineralogy, &c

The Book of Nature


Strong Advocate

The Life of a Trial Lawyer

Strong Advocate

In Strong Advocate, Thomas Strong, one of the most successful trial lawyers in Missouri’s history, chronicles his adventures as a contemporary personal injury attorney. Though the profession is held in low esteem by the general public, Strong entered the field with the right motives: to help victims who have been injured by defective products or through the negligence of others. As a twelve-year-old in rural southwest Missouri during the Great Depression, Strong bought a cow, then purchased others as he could afford them, and eventually financed his education with the milk he sold. After graduating law school and serving in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps, he rejected offers to practice in New York and San Francisco and returned to his hometown of Springfield. Strong exhibited his lifelong passion to represent the underdog early in his practice, the “trial by ambush” days when neither side was required to disclose witnesses or exhibits. He quickly became known for his audacious approach to trying cases. Tactics included asking a friend to ride on top of a moving car and hiring a local character called “Crazy Max” to recreate an automobile accident. One fraud case ended with Strong owning a bank and his opponent going to prison. When he sued a labor union for the wrongful death of his client’s spouse, he found his own life threatened. With changes in the law that allowed discovery of information from an opponent’s files as well as the exhibits and witnesses to be used at trial, Strong and fellow personal injury attorneys forced a wide array of manufacturers to produce safer products. When witnesses of a terrible collision claimed both roadways had green lights simultaneously, Strong purchased the traffic light controller. After three months of continuous testing at a university, the controller failed, showing four green lights, and Strong learned that fail-safe devices were available but had not been implemented. These fail-safe devices are now standard on traffic lights throughout the country. In his last venture, Strong represented the state of Missouri in its case against the tobacco industry, culminating in a settlement totaling billions of dollars. He reflects on the changes—not always for the better—in his oft-maligned profession since he entered the field in the 1950s. Thomas Strong’s story of tenacity, quick wits, and humor demonstrates what made him such a creative and effective attorney. Lawyers and law students can learn much from this giant of the bar, and all readers will be entertained and heartened by his victories for the everyman.

A New Voyage to Carolina

A New Voyage to Carolina

John Lawson's amazingly detailed yet lively book is easily one of the most valuable of the early histories of the Carolinas, and it is certainly one of the best travel accounts of the early eighteenth-century colonies. An inclusive account of the manners and customs of the Indian tribes of that day, it is also a minute report of the soil, climate, trees, plants, animals, and fish in the Carolinas. Lawson's observation is keen and thorough; his style direct and vivid. He misses nothing and recounts all -- from the storms at sea to his impressions of New York in 1700, the trip down the coast to Charleston, and his travels from there into North Carolina with his Indian guides. The first edition of this work was published in London in 1709. While various editions followed in the eighteenth century -- including two in German -- this edition is a true copy of the original and is the first to include a comprehensive index. It also contains "The Second Charter," "An Abstract of the Constitution of Carolina," Lawson's will, and several previously unpublished letters written by Lawson. A number of DeBry woodcuts of John White's drawings of Indian life, sketches of the beasts of Carolina which appeared in the original 1709 edition, and Lawson's map contribute additional interest to this volume.

Understanding Your Dog For Dummies

Understanding Your Dog For Dummies

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of getting a dog or nervous about caring for the one you’ve already brought home, now you can relax. Understanding Your Dog for Dummies helps you recognize not only why your dog behaves the way she does, but in a way that enables you to parlay that into a well-behaved companion who listens (and sits, and speaks, and comes, etc.). Whether your pooch is a mixed breed or purebred, she has a distinct identity that makes her unique. The first step in understanding your dog is to respect the honorable task she was originally bred for and to identify how these inbred impulses influence her personality and behavior. In essence, you need to speak her language if you expect her to learn to understand yours. Understanding Your Dog for Dummies gives you everything you need to learn to understand your pooch’s unique dialect of “Doglish”—and shows you how to take on the role as pack leader to give your dog the cues, guidance, and consistency she needs to shape and develop good behaviors. Inside you’ll discover how to: Read your dog’s body language Communicate with your dog Interpret your dog’s breed-specific traits Correct dog-behavior-gone-bad Counter anxiety-based behavior Understand and resolve aggressive behavior And so much more! Think of this book as Doglish 101—a prerequisite for every human member of your dog’s family. Now, let the training begin!