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Dog Tales

Changing Minds: Has Selective Breeding Restructured Some Dog Brains?

Published by admin on 06-05-2013

Compare the petite Chihuahua with the daunting Great Dane, or the lithe greyhound to the poofy Pomeranian. Many scientists agree that the domestic dog displays more morphological variation than any other known species, thanks to selective breeding by humans.

But dog breeds differ in more than their outward appearances. A new study suggests that human preferences have dramatically altered the structure and position of the brain in certain dog breeds, potentially modifying their sense of smell and behavior as well.

In a study published online July 26 in PLoS ONE, neuroscientist Michael Valenzuela of the University of New South Wales in Australia investigated an aspect of canine anatomy that has not received much attention from earlier research: the position of the brain within the skull. All dogs, no matter what the breed, belong to the same subspecies (Canis lupus familiaris) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from which they were domesticated. Gray wolves have relatively long skulls and one gray wolf skull is more or less the same as another (age and gender differences notwithstanding).

Published 8/13/2010 in Scientific American
http://ow.ly/2q7Dm(external link)
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=breeding-dog-brains(external link)