The man who killed Pluto is OK with other dogsWe're in week two of the Cosmos reboot, and as in the original 1980 series, this episode is all about evolution. Where Carl Sagan began his second episode with a Cosmic view, wondering whether life might be all over the universe, Neil deGrasse Tyson takes us straight to ground level: "This is a story about you, me and your dog." The selective development of dogs from wolves -- beginning with the wolves that tolerated humans enough to scavenge from their camps, humans bred the wolves that were more docile -- is an easy illustration of huge changes in a species through artificial selection. Tyson calls it "survival of the friendliest," and it's a viewer-friendly move: by emphasizing the deliberate selection of specific traits, the show sets up the larger topic of natural selection with a friendly, tail-wagging example. Tyson gets the chance to explain that "cuteness became a selective advantage -- the more adorable you were, the better chance you had to live and pass on your genes to another generation." It's a smart choice, since doggies are loveable, and a conscious contrast to the "red in tooth and claw" version of evolution that people usually think of. There's another cartoon -- ahem, animated segment -- illustrating how early dogs and humans got along, and how humans shaped the doggie genome to range from critters that still look sort of wolfy to little ankle-manglers, all of them members of the species canis lupus familiaris.


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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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