A very interesting story appeared in New Scientist recently regarding the domestication of dogs. We’re going to take a look at that story today, as well as the broader topic of animal domestication as that is something we’ve never touched on before and it had tangential bearing on the flood and its aftermath. With all that in mind, let’s look at what New Scientist tells us.
Inbreeding depression is a very strong danger to small populations. As relatives with
similar DNA interbreed, more and more deleterious mutations begin to be expressed,
effectively crippling the population, and often driving it to extinction. However, small
populations are often unable to avoid inbreeding, meaning other mechanisms must be
employed to counter its destructive effect.
Deleterious alleles are, by definition, not beneficial and should be selected out. However, sometimes deleterious alleles are maintained in a population, despite their harmful effects. Scientists have proposed several explanations for this unintuitive quirk of biology. Overdominance, otherwise known as heterozygote advantage, and mutation-selection balance are two such explanations.
Carnivorous plants have fascinated humanity for centuries. Even Charles Darwin (Darwin, 1875) took time from reshaping the scientific landscape to write about these bizarre plants. Pitcher plants are one of the more well-known variants of carnivorous plants. They come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors, and are somewhat popular as ornamental plants. According to current research, they have a very interesting evolutionary history as well.