Studies illuminate animal domestication
KRISTINA NARFSTROM/UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, COLUMBIA
Domesticated animals transitioned from wild beasts into furry friends thousands of years ago, but scientists have not yet fully explained how taming also altered animals’ appearances. In 2014, researchers took steps toward the answer.
In July, three scientists presented the idea that slight alterations in some cells could account for physical attributes that go hand-in-hand with tameness (SN: 8/23/14, p. 7). The cells, called neural crest cells, migrate through embryos and contribute to the development of many parts of the body, including the face, pigment cells and adrenal glands — the source of the fight-or-flight response.