The Wolf Within: The Astonishing Evolution of Man’s Best Friend

By Professor Bryan Sykes

The evolution of dogs and the forces that drove its amazing transformation from a fierce wild carnivore, the wolf, to the astonishing range of comparatively docile domesticated dogs that we know today.

Sykes paints a vivid picture of the dog as an ancient and essential ally. While undoubtedly it was the mastery of fire, language and agriculture that propelled Homo sapiens from a scarce, medium-sized primate to the position we enjoy today, Sykes crucially credits a fourth element for this success: the transformation of the wolf into the multi-purpose helpmate that is the dog. Drawing upon archaeology, history and genetics, Sykes shows how humans evolved to become the dominant species on Earth, but only with the help of our canine companions.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 14 Nov 2019
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-00-824445-3
Professor Bryan Sykes is a Fellow of Wolfson College, and Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford. Originally a medical geneticist specialising in inherited bone disease, Prof Sykes has in recent years been researching what DNA can tell us about the human past. His work has encompassed the first recovery of DNA from ancient bone, the colonisation of Polynesia, the fate of the Neanderthals, the early settlement of Britain and the link between genetics and surnames. He is the founder and chairman of Oxford Ancestors, which helps individuals explore their genetic roots using DNA.

Praise for The Wolf Within: -

”'Fascinating” - The Times

”'Bryan Sykes belongs to the elite band of geneticists who can make their dizzying science at least partially clear to the layman” - Literary Review

”'Scientifically inclined dog lovers will find this a trove of information and provocation” - Kirkus Reviews

”'Rich with details about how humans have studied and shaped dog evolution … Sykes also has a gift for rendering complex concepts, such as mitochondrial DNA or genetic microsatellites, accessible to lay readers” - Publishers Weekly

‘Reading this is like having your own personal geneticist explain complex research papers in a way that is both comprehensible and fascinating. Heavily peppered with references to scientific papers that have documented the research on dog genetics, this also serves as a wealth of further reading material. Rich in accessible analogies that deftly explain complex scientific concepts, this is a must-read for anybody who has wondered about the origins of humans’ best friend’ Library Journal -

”'In prose both scientific and poetic, geneticist and author Sykes, self-described as 'not a dog person' but curious about the parallel evolution of dog and human, takes us through the archaeological, paleontological, behavioral, and genetic evidence pinpointing the transformation of wolf to dog … Woven throughout are possible answers to why humans are so in love with their dogs, making for a warmly engaging popular-science read” - Booklist

Praise for Professor Bryan Sykes: -

”'A terrific book, written with humour and humanity” - Sunday Times

”'An engrossing, bubbly read, a boy's own adventure in scientific storytelling that fairly bounces along … a thumping good read” - Observer

”'Sykes's wonderfully clear book should be compulsory reading for politicians … an eye-opening guide to the new branch of science that is changing the human race's view of itself” - Literary Review