The dog as rat

By Razib Khan | August 25, 2009 9:58 am

Speaking of Richard Dawkins, he’s back to science, in this case an excerpt from his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution:

The evolution of the dog, then, if Coppinger is right, was not just a matter of artificial selection, but a complicated mixture of natural selection (which predominated in the early stages of domestication) and artificial selection (which came to the fore more recently). The transition would have been seamless, which again goes to emphasise the similarity — as Darwin recognised — between artificial and natural selection.

Nothing new in the article, which summarizes a lot of the fascinating new research on the evolution & genetics of domestication, particularly in the context of wolves & dogs. But Dawkins is a fluid writer who can weave in scientific data and theory to generate effortless narrative flow. Here lay his comparative advantage.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, Genetics
  • zyxwvutsr

    “Artificial” selection? The very term is ripe for replacement. Maybe “natural selection” is, too. “Selection” and “human selection” would be okay, no? (The later being a subset of the former. Humans being part of the environment, etc., etc.)


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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