With encyclopaedic detail, Francis investigates the nature of domestication, focusing mostly on the biological rather than anthropological factors responsible for a wide array of human/animal partnerships. He ranges widely across species, including house pets, livestock, and pack animals, discussing the types of genetic changes that commonly occur during the process of domestication and the developmental implications such changes have.
The wolf evolved into the Pekingese, the wildcat into the tabby cat and the auroch into the milk-producing cow. This happened through the process called "domestication". Domesticated creatures have served us well- without them, civilisation as we know it would not exist. Richard C. Francis weaves history, archaeology and anthropology, while seamlessly integrating the most cutting-edge ideas in twenty-first-century biology, to create a fascinating narrative. Each domesticated species is a case study in evolution, and two key themes emerge: that domestication often results in the retention of juvenile traits and that evolution remains fundamentally a conservative process. Francis also explores the ways in which these themes apply to human evolution.