No Dark Magic

books, Sweden, and computers, not necessarily in any order

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution by Lee Alan Dugatkin, Lyudmila Trut

Posted at — Jun 15, 2019

This book is an interesting but unsettling cocktail. There’s a part of science in it, especially towards the end, with various researchers making use of the platform of the fox farm. There’s a part of Soviet history and tradition, with vodka and caviar and people breaking arms but putting work for science above all in -40°C. There’s a lot of Soviet-like praise to the main people behind the story, repetetive and undiluted.

And then there’s this notion, coming up again and again, that tame foxes get changes in their bodies: floppy ears, shorter stouts, different reproductive cycle they can’t support, curly tails, and so on, caused by something like delay in development. Put simply, foxes stay childlike longer to fit as pets. I can’t help but wonder, is it really a good thing? Then again, Belyaev assumed people are self-domesticated primates, so maybe it made sense for him.


(240 pages, ISBN: 022644418X, Worldcat, Open Library)

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