Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How Dachshunds Got Their Funny Legs

Those short, thick, stumpy, wobbly, knobbly, stubby, crooked appendages. One of the many things we love about the dachshund. How did they come to be? Science magazine offers up a clue, and here's an excerpt: In 2007, geneticist Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and her colleagues found a single gene in short dogs that regulated the expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1); the gene was missing in giant breeds.
Ostrander's lab has homed in on the "short" gene in detail and found a new surprise: Not only does it make dogs small, but some dogs carry an extra genetic element inserted by chance into chromosome 15. The element--a so-called retrogene--changes the expression of IGF-1 and gives the dogs the distinctive short, bowed forelimbs of chondrodysplasia.
Read all about it at Science magazine.

Photo Details: cachorritas1 by flickr photographer donsabas. Nice legs!

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