According to a recent study by biologists Chris Klingenberg (University 0f Manchester) and Abby Drake (College of the Holy Cross in the US), the domesticated dog – aka man’s best friend – has managed to etch a unique evolutionary history that shows the cute side of Darwin‘s original theory.
Published in The American Naturalist, the study analyzed the skull shapes of domestic dogs, and then compared them with those of different species from beneath the order of Carnivora (an order also occupied by cats, bears, weasels, civets, seals and walruses). It discovered no only the fact that the skull shapes of domesticated dogs offer a variety that exceeds the known variations found across the entire order, but that the extremes stand in greater contrast than one side of the Carnivora spectrum to the other.
This is significant in that the selection now presented by the order Carnivora – a 60-million-plus process – has been effectively outperformed by human selection over the course of a mere 150 years. Dr. Klingenberg explains that variation that could affect vital functions (like breathing) are allowed to succeed in the world of the breeder; however, if such mutations occurred in the wild, those genetics would slowly die away – via natural selection -resulting with the animal’s ultimate extinction.
In the end, Darwin comes through as the true beneficiary of Klingenberg and Drake’s research. He said intervention causes variation, and as this study has proven, human intervention produces wide variation in a short period of time.
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