Survival of the Cutest
It sounds wacky at first, but think about – maybe we’re all selecting for what we perceive as the cutest pets, call the theory Survival of the Cutest.
A study published in The American Naturalist today (20
January 2010), compared the skull shapes of domestic dogs with those of
different species across the order Carnivora, to which dogs belong
along with cats, bears, weasels, civets and even walruses.
The research determined that the skull shapes of domestic dogs varied as much as
those of the whole order. It also showed that the extremes of diversity
were farther apart in domestic dogs than in the rest of the order. This
means, for instance, that a Collie has a skull shape that is more
different from that of a Pekingese than the skull shape of the cat is
from that of a walrus.
Researcher Dr Abby Drake explains: “We usually think of evolution as a slow and
gradual process, but the incredible amount of diversity in domestic
dogs has originated through selective breeding in just the last few
hundred years, and particularly after the modern purebred dog breeds
were established in the last 150 years.”
According to Drake – dogs are far more selected for ‘cuteness,’ compared to the ability to do a job or for temperament. I’m not sure all breeders would agree.