Science Comics: Dogs: From Predator to Protector
I knew the latest installment of the Science Comics series, Andy Hirsch‘s Dogs: From Predator to Protector, would be cute. With his art (as also seen in The Baker Street Peculiars) and the subject, how could it not be? What I didn’t expect was just how much science was packed into it, looking at how dogs came to be “man’s best friend” and why they do what they do.
A charming mutt named Rudy chases his ball from the dog park through time to explore the prehistoric origins of dogs. It’s an active, brightly colorful story that manages to explain genetics, heredity, chromosomes, dominant and recessive genes, natural and artificial selection, environmental adaptation, and evolution. Whew!
Rudy narrates a lot of substantial information to explain traits in species and why dogs wind up short-legged or spotted or such. Most important, in the dog’s development, was selection for friendliness to humans, so we also learn about Belyaev’s experiments in the late 1950s to domesticate foxes.
Hirsch’s art is wonderful, capturing the different types of dogs and their changes through history in simplified but still distinctive style. It’s instantly approachable, drawing in the reader to find out more about these cute canines.
Rudy elaborates on dog abilities, such as their athletic stamina and the way their senses work. That means what kind of colors they see and their range of hearing, but most importantly, how and why they sniff, including why they sniff butts. We also learn about dog behaviors, such as herding; their communication methods, including barking and tail-wagging; and how to train one with behavior rewarding. There is a ton of information in this comic!
All the Science Comics are great, but this is one of the best of the bunch, an outstanding read. I wished there was a bit more information on types of breeds and examples, because the stories Hirsch shares about golden retrievers, Yorkshire terriers, and the King Charles spaniel are so great.
Any dog lover should read this to learn more about their favorite pet. I’d never thought about how odd it is that all the different breeds of dogs, with all the different shapes and features, are still considered one species. As Hirsch points out, “Dogs are the most physically diverse species on the planet.” And I appreciated his ending call to get a pet at a shelter or rescue group.
Science Comics: Dogs is now available for pre-order at your local comic shop with Diamond code AUG17 1719. It’s a 128-page color paperback with a list price of $12.99 due out November 1. It’s also available in a hardcover edition ($19.99, AUG17 1720). (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)