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Mutant gene responsible for pigeons' head crests
Date:1/31/2013

stent with historical records of trade routes between those regions. People were not only sharing goods along those routes, but probably also interbreeding their pigeons.

As for the idea that free-living pigeons descended from escaped racing pigeons, Shapiro says his 2012 study was based on "relatively few genetic markers scattered throughout the genome. We now have stronger evidence based on 1.5 million markers, confirming the previous result with much better data."

The scientists analyzed partial genomes of two feral pigeons: one from a U.S. Interstate-15 overpass in Utah's Salt Lake Valley, the other from Lake Anna in Virginia.

"Despite being separated by 1,000 miles, they are genetically very similar to each other and to the racing homer breed," Shapiro says.

"Darwin used this striking example to communicate how natural selection works," he says. "Now we can get to the DNA-level changes that are responsible for some of the diversity that intrigued Darwin 150 years ago."


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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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