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More junk makes for better dads

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10:52am, July 1, 2005

Prairie vole dads are models of dedicated fatherhood. Even among them, however, some dads are more exemplary than others. Now, a new molecules-to-behavior analysis links particularly dutiful fatherhood in these hamster-size rodents to a stretch of DNA that scientists once dismissed as meaningless junk.

Two closely related species of voles intrigue biologists because the voles live such different lives. Prairie voles bond into couples and share pup care. In meadow voles, males mate with various females and don't provide care for the pups.

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