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Not Plants But Silkworms

In response to:

Wrong Victim from the June 28, 2018 issue

Raised by Wolves from the April 5, 2018 issue

To the Editors:

Ronald Lanner’s letter [NYR, June 28] purportedly correcting a point in Tim Flannery’s article “Raised by Wolves” [NYR, April 5] itself requires a correction. Lanner states that Flannery was in error about the identity of Dmitri Belyaev’s brother, confusing him with the famed Russian plant geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, a victim of Stalin who died in prison in 1943. In fact, Flannery got the basic facts right: Dmitri Belyaev did indeed have a noted older geneticist brother named Nikolai, who fell afoul of Stalin’s regime, similarly to Vavilov, and was executed in 1937. The only error in Flannery’s account was to describe Nikolai Belyaev as a plant geneticist when actually he was a silkworm geneticist.

Adam S. Wilkins
Institute of Theoretical Biology
Humboldt University Berlin, Germany