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Publisher's Summary

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.
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 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.
©2017 Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut (P)2017 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"The science is profound, but the authors write accessibly and engagingly - and their vulpine subjects are awfully cute, too. Of compelling interest to any animal lover and especially to devotees of canids of all kinds." ( Kirkus
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Illyria on 11-21-17

Awesome story, fantastic book!

This is one of the best books ever! Just the right amount of story telling and science mixing to make for an interesting learning experience and an enthralling, heartwarming story. Loved it!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By paul on 10-26-17


Anyone with a passing interest in Evolution, the story of Charles Darwin and his fateful voyage to the Galapagos, or the journey that Francis and Crick set out upon that led to the discovery of the Immortal Coil, will have heard of Belyaev and his foxes.

I had read about this man and his multi-decade study that has(the study is ongoing) shown the evolutionary effects that artificially selecting for “tameness” in foxes has caused. He is a hero in the arena of evolutionary biology, and less importantly, he is someone that I have looked up to as an intellectual role model since the first time I heard about his story.

Imagine my exuberance when I found that his partner, Lyudmila Trut, had collaborated with Lee Alan Dugatkin to tell the entire story of the foxes! Not second hand from Belyaev’s writings or journals, but from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak.

I knew I wanted to devour this book solely for it’s importance to my scientific understanding of evolution and the effects of artificial selection on future generations.

I didn’t expect for the emotional roller coaster ride that this story took me on. The obstacles that were overcome by this group of people in the face of such foreboding odds is nothing short of miraculous.

This story feels real. It felt like I was there, in “Pushinka’s House”, as the narrator takes us through the accomplishments of that, particularly special fox. The book is beautifully written in this regard, taking the reader on the journey as if they were there. I plan on rereading the book tonight and highly recommend that you make this your next literary choice!

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