What genes behind dog facial features can tell us

by Rebecca on February 9, 2013

in Pet Talk

By Tanya Lewis
LiveScience
From: NBCNews

Thanks to human breeders, dogs exhibit an impressive variety of skull shapes. Studying the genes that determine these shapes could provide insight into human skull development and craniofacial disorders, scientists say.

In a new study, scientists detail the biological and historical origins of dog skull shapes, highlighting some of the genetic developments that gave rise to different breeds.

“Sometime during the Paleolithic,” the researchers write in the February issue of the journal Genetics, “a remarkable transformation occurred. Small numbers of gray wolves adopted a new pack master — humans.” Over the years, dog fanciers and breeders have tinkered with those canines so much that more than 400 dog breeds exist today worldwide.

Much of the variation is in skull characteristics. “Dogs can serve as a model for skull growth and shape determination, because the genetic conservation between dogs and humans makes it highly likely that craniofacial development is regulated similarly between both species,” study co-author Jeffrey Schoenebeck of the National Institutes of Health said in a statement.


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