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Friday, July 31, 2009

Darwinism and popular culture: The evolution of the wiener dog

A friend sent me this item on the purely random evolution of the wiener dog (dachsund):
Our findings suggest that retrogenes may play a larger role in evolution than has been previously thought, especially as a source of diversity within species," said the study's first author, Heidi G. Parker, Ph.D. of NHGRI. "We were surprised to find that just one retrogene inserted at one point during the evolution of a species could yield such a dramatic physical trait that has been conserved over time."

In the past, retrogenes have been recognized as an important source of changes that have fueled the divergence of species. However, the dog findings are the first example of a retrogene that has spurred significant and long-lasting variation within a single species.
And it just happened to be conserved, too, by survival of the fittest. Amazing.

News flash!
Toronto (July 27, 2009) North of Lake Superior, Canadian wildlife biologists are reporting a dismaying reduction in wolf packs, with a few haggard, starving survivors haunting fast food dumpsters near riverside hunting lodges, in hopes of a stale donut or two.

Highly efficient wild packs of dachshunds have been attacking established timber wolf packs and seizing their moose kills.

Geez Freeple, a Toronto University-based wildlife biologist, explained, "Evolution bred the dachshunds to have short legs and weak jaws, so they never actually get anywhere near the kill until after the wolves have brought it down and opened it up. After that, it is an easy matter for the dachsunds to drive off the wolves. They just yap incessantly. Same principle as driving guests away from the dachshund owner’s house. Of course, the wolves meekly surrender in just the same way as the house guest does and slink off.

"It continually amazes me that anyone doubts the power of unguided Darwinian evolution."

(Note: To avoid misunderstanding, this is not a serious post.

There are NO packs of wild dachshunds running loose in the boreal forests of Canada.

No Geez Freeple works at the University of Toronto.

No boreal wolf would see the dachshund as anything but about 2 kg of pleasant guts to devour, all the sweeter if it just had a meal of dog food.

And the yaps would cease pretty quickly too.

If you follow me on Twitter, I'll let you know when I have posted a number of stories to one of my blogs, generally about 5 new ones.

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