Pugs, part of the brachycephalic dogs family, are well known for their flat, quite little faces. A team of scientists has been wondering what makes these animals look this way, and now, they believe to have found the reason. Seemingly, these little dogs’ face is the result of a specific series of mutations.
Brachycephalic dogs also include, besides pugs, Boston terriers, Pomeranians, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and various other breeds.
Research was conducted by a team of University of Edinburgh Roslin Institute scientists. Study results recently became available in the journal Current Biology.
Pugs Gained Their Unique Look Thanks to a Series of Genetic Mutations
The study team analyzed 374 dogs that had previously been brought to the vet with some help from computer tomography. Among these subjects, 84 were Kennel Club recognized breeds, and another 83 were mixed-breeds. Based on the tomographies, the team developed detailed 3D reconstructions of the dogs’ skulls, their facial features, and expressions.
After analyzing the data, the scientists noted that the shape of the skull corresponded to an individual dog breed. Pugs were also observed to be the species with the most ‘smooshed-up’ face. Smooth collies, in contrast, were noted to have the most elongated snouts among the analyzed species.
A closer look at these results also revealed a series of genetic variations among pugs. These were seen to correspond to the length of the dogs’ faces. Several of the detected mutations were also noted to be quite common among brachycephalic dogs. One particular such variation was the one that suppresses the SMOC2 gene.
This is known to contribute to in the cranial development of mice and fish. Still, the SMOC2 gene mutation was noted to be responsible for about one-third of the genetic mutations tied to the pug face. So according to the scientists, other genetic factors are undoubtedly involved as well.
The results of this new study can reportedly help bring new data to the understanding of evolutionary biology. This may also seemingly help develop better veterinary medicine practices and also bring a new light into human development as well.
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