Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nice Rats, Nasty Rats: Maybe It’s All in the Genes

Scientists in Russia are trying to determine what allowed animals to be domesticated. They are breeding rats and foxes for tameness. They are then going to try and find the genes responsible.

One possibility is that a handful of genes — perhaps even just one — underlie all the changes seen in domestication. A structure in the embryo of all vertebrates, known as the neural crest, is the source of cells that constitute much of the face, skull and pigment cells, and many parts of the peripheral nervous system and endocrine system. If the genes in the neural crest cells were delayed just a little in coming into action, a whole range of tissues could be affected, including the maturation of the adrenal glands that underlies the first fear response of young animals, Dr. Fitch has written.
Can't wait to see what they find out.

via New York Times

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