Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have used canine DNA to identify a genetic mutation mechanism they believe is responsible for rapid evolutionary changes in the physical appearance of many species.
The findings, based on data gathered from hundreds of museum specimens of dogs and from blood samples of volunteered live dogs, offer a new explanation for the sudden, rapid rise of new species found in the fossil record. They also help explain the variability in appearance among individual members of a species, such as the length of the nose in different breeds of domestic dogs.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and are available online. "Were offering an explanation for a lot of different components of evolution, one that goes against the central dogma that currently explains how certain aspects of evolution take place," said Dr. Harold "Skip" Garner, professor of biochemistry and internal medicine at UT Southwestern and one of the authors of the study, which involved only small, non-invasive blood draws from dogs by licensed veterinarians.
Amanda Siegfried | EurekAlert!
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