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How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends Hardcover – October 27, 2011
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"Mark Derr has produced a remarkable narrative on the origin of the domestic dog. Using the latest findings from such varied fields as genomic research, archaeology, comparative anatomy, and paleontology, Derr is able to piece together what is the most likely narrative for the story of how the dog became the first domesticated animal. His findings clearly show that widely held assumptions about the supposed integral role of neoteny in the domestication process are likely erroneous. Such findings are likely to be controversial, but Derr has compiled so much evidence that one will think twice before repeating the line that dogs are nothing more than juvenilized wolves. Because of this book looks at domestic dog origins from so many different perspectives, it may be the most important book written on the subject since Konrad Lorenz wrote Man Meets Dog in 1949. This book will fascinate anyone who has ever loved a dog." — Scottie Westfall, author of the Retrieverman blog
"Derr's research spans the globe and considers mythology and literature alongside more scientific evidence as he explores the stories of Romulus and Remus and of Odysseus and his dog, Argus." — Sacramento News and Reviews
"Derr's richly detailed, well-sourced research, however, offers a full plate of choices and razor-sharp analysis to help you connect the dots while not undermining the authenticity of the big picture." — Seattle Kennel Club
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Top Customer Reviews
The concept is fascinating, but the writing mostly poor. And there is blatant lack of editing. Some sentences are unintelligible even after several tries. The books is almost painful to read as each page seems to have some kind of error ranging from the obvious (e.g. "146,000 to 123 years ago") to awkward wording.
I did read the whole thing although parts of it were repetitious. I feel like he went thru the same ice age 20 times. But still, there is a very interesting premise that dogs and humans co-evolved and it certainly is a new idea. I look forward to more research in this area.
The description of how dramatically different dogs' lives are now vs. even a few hundred years ago, especially in the first world, is quite enlightening. I had never thought about how we now control every aspect of the dogs' existence whereas before they were much more independent (and still are in poorer countries).
What I like most about Mark Derr's presentation of the history of the dog's evolution is that he juxtaposes the various theories and points out where they overlap, where they contradict, and where they must obviously be incorrect. He does say that the theories are only scientists' best guesses based on the archaeological and anthropological evidence available at the time they were generated -- so the critics who question the scientific / factual basis of the book are, I think, just being petty.
I also enjoy Derr's attempts to look at domestication from the dog/wolf's viewpoint. As humans, we tend to look at things in the way that is most beneficial or complimentary to humans, but anyone who's spent time with dogs knows that dogs are just as good at (or better at) "training" humans to behave in ways that benefit them as humans are at training dogs. Derr points out that domestication was a choice made by both parties and that benefits both -- a partnership view of the human-dog relationship that seems more fair and honest than only looking at what humans can and do gain from living and working with the dog.Read more ›
I am not a trained paleontologist or paleoanthropologist, so I do not feel fully qualified to critique the major hypothesis of his book--that dogs arose from a very ancient hunting partnership between wolves and humans or even pre-humans. However, when I find numerous errors of fact in things I do know about, I tend to be distrustful of an author's assertions about matters where I can't claim expertise. For instance, on page 68 among the animals mentioned as part of the massive dying off of megafauna at the end of the Pleistocene, he includes the aurochs. In point of fact, the aurochs made it through that period just fine. Some were tamed by our Neolithic ancestors to become our domestic cattle. In their wild form, they were familiar to the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Romans (they were favorites of the Roman arena) and only became extinct in A.D. 1627. On the same page, the author evinces an old-fashioned prejudice against hyenas. In point of fact, hyenas can be very tame and affectionate if raised from cubs and can do almost anything a dog can as well or better. Although author Derr states, "There is no evidence that any human group tried to befriend them," in fact the ancient Egyptians did try domesticating them. The hyena's downfall as a human partner is their enormous appetite--they simply eat too much.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really wanted to like this book going in. It seemed like something right up my alley as someone with interest in evolutionary genetics. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Whizzers Row: The Third
I read this book because I had an hypothesis that current thinking about the domestication of the wolf was wrong and that humans and dogs formed a symbiotic hunting relationship... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Cynthia Echterling
Very interesting study on the canid family, goes great with the book Dogs; Their fossil and evolutionary historyPublished 17 months ago by Ernest M Martin 111
Essential reading for anyone interested in canine, especially those of dogs, origins, and numerous other dog and canine issues.Published 20 months ago by Jeffrey Armadillo
As I am a pet lover, I like to read anything about dogs so as to make my pets life better and I enjoy his company so it is a good read this book as I always learn somthingPublished on March 24, 2014 by ANNE COLLINS
This seemed to be a very interesting topic and appeared to be scientifically based. Mark Derr certainly gathered many resources and on first glance presents his points technically. Read morePublished on February 28, 2014 by ds
I agree with previous reviewers: this author has something interesting to say, but the book is so badly written and organised, the ideas do not come across. Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by Fever Few
It had the information I was interested in and I was looking for.I am completely satisfied with this purchase. thanksPublished on August 28, 2013 by Mark Fenner