A Pigeon Worth Looking Up To: Science Magazine Cover
Mar 6, 2013 8:00 AM
Having lived in New York City for some time, I have a high degree of respect for the adaptations of pigeons to be able to survive urban living. This month, a study by our own Michael D. Shapiro, co-authored among others, by human genetics professor, Mark Yandell is helping the broader scientific community appreciate the diversity of pigeons and the biology of their evolution. This high impact work made the cover of Science Magazine, and we could not be more proud.
In January the study generated an article in the New York Times, which is also a great read and explains the study best:
“The scientists are… using the birds to find clues to the way evolution works in general. They are particularly interested in the mutations that produce radically new kinds of anatomy.”
What trait did Shapiro hone in on? Head crests, of course.
“The way we tracked this trait was innovative,” said Shapiro. “We used gene-finding software from Mark Yandell’s group that was developed to find mutations that control human diseases. We adapted this software to find mutations that control interesting traits in pigeons. This should be extendable to other animals as well.”
So the next time you’re in Central Park, show a little respect for our fine-feathered friends.
NOTE: The study’s University of Utah co-authors were Yandell; Eric Domyan, biology postdoctoral fellow; Zev Kronenberg and Michael Campbell, Ph.D. students in human genetics; Anna Vickery, biology undergraduate student; Sydney Stringham, Ph.D. student in biology; and Chad Huff, a former postdoctoral fellow in human genetics now at the University of Texas.
The study was funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the National Science Foundation, the University of Utah Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Danish National Research Foundation.comments powered by Disqus