“The Wolf Within: astonishing evolution of the wolf into man’s best friend” by Bryan Sykes

★★★

Have you ever thought how strange it is that another completely unrelated species can be genetically conditioned to like humans? It is pretty strange and in this easily read book Professor Sykes explains the research we have so far on the origins of man’s best friend. 

You do not have to know much about science to get what professor Sykes is writing. It is unusual for me to buy any natural science popular science book at all. Chemistry, physics, biology… these are all things that I keep thinking I should learn more about, but I quickly start to yawn and wander away when reading about such topics.  Part of the reason for this is that I ran away from maths and chemistry and all that stuff as soon as I could in school, so I know very little about natural sciences. But this book actually held my attention. So if you are as science illiterate as me do not worry; if I can read this book then anyone can!

The author’s explanations are easy to comprehend. And, thankfully, he does not only talk about DNA and genomes, he also presents theories for how the first cooperation between humans and wolfs might have unfolded. He explains why there are such a wide rage of dog races, and how there is not really any such thing as race. He also discusses the impact of kennels and breeding standards on evolution.

The best part of the book were the questions I had never really considered: how come our most trusted friend, the other species we most easily connected with, is not our nearest relative the chimpanzee but a canine? Why is the dog man’s best friend and wolves evil villains in our stories?

One of the main reasons for my buying this book is that my own dog died last summer (it really is like loosing a family member!). Bryan Sykes is at pains to emphasize that he is not a dog-lover, but I am and I thought reading about his “family history” was a nice way to honour Valter’s memory. 

 

Valter and I both shared a love for cinnamon buns. RIP Valle
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