How To Supersize Your Dog

1 comment April 5th, 2007at 06:43pm Posted by Eli

More Fun With Science!

Scientists have just discovered which gene fragment controls the size of dogs, which have the greatest size range of any mammal — no other species produces adults with 100-fold differences, like that between a two-pound chihuahua and a 200-pound Newfoundland.

In a study to be published tomorrow in the journal Science, researchers analyzed 3,241 purebred dogs from 143 breeds. Genetically, the yapper arguing with your ankle is almost identical to the drooling behemoth bred to hunt bears, except for a tiny bit of DNA that suppresses the “insulin-like growth factor 1” gene.

Dog breeders have unwittingly been selecting for it since the last Ice Age. Dogs emerged from the wolf about 15,000 years ago, and as far back as 10,000 years ago, domesticated dogs as big as mastiffs and as small as Jack Russell terriers were trotting the earth.

(…)

Making it “cool biology,” [lead author Elaine A. Ostrander] said, is that the same gene suppressor is found in both mice and men, creating mini-mice and suspected in human dwarfism.

And because it controls growth gone awry, she said, it will help cancer research, and is to be planted in mice.

But carefully: A mouse the size of a Great Dane, she said, “would be a little scary, wouldn’t it?”

I think I sense a Sci-Fi Saturday movie coming on… I also wonder whether guard-hamsters would be practical.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

1 Comment

  • 1. four legs good  |  April 7th, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Oh dear.

    I do love me some giant mice.


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