Genetic Difference Found in Wild vs. Tame Animals – Yahoo! News

By | June 10, 2009

A study of nasty and nice lab rats has scientists on the verge of knowing the genes that separate wild animals like lions and wolves from their tame cousins, cats and dogs.

Unlike their wild ancestors, house pets and other domesticated animals share the trait of tameness, meaning they tolerate or even seek out human presence. New research, which is published in the June issue of the journal Genetics and involved the interbreeding of friendly and aggressive rats, reveals gene regions that influence the opposing behaviors.

“I hope our study will ultimately lead to a detailed understanding of the genetics and biology of tameness,” said researcher Frank Albert of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. “Maybe we’ll then be able to domesticate a few of those species where humans have historically not been successful like the wild African Buffalo.”

And we can possibly understand more about the furry creatures in our homes.

“If you think about dogs, they are such amazing animals. When you compare a dog with a wild wolf, a wolf has no interest in communicating [with] or tolerating humans,” Albert told LiveScience. “If you’re lucky a wolf in the wild wouldn’t care about you. But a dog does care and they even seek human presence.”

He added, “Dogs were all wolves at some point. How did they become these animals that need humans to exist?”

via Genetic Difference Found in Wild vs. Tame Animals – Yahoo! News.

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