We Now Know Why Your Dogs Face Is Smooshy

first_imgStay on target Everyone knows someone with a pug. They’re the goofy, snorting dogs that you suspect might actually need a ton of help and a respirator to breathe properly. Obviously, smoosh-faced critters are… a bit less than natural due to human-influenced in-breeding, but until now, we’ve never actually known what mutation causes such dramatic physical changes. Now, researchers suspect that they’ve found the genetic culprit.In biology, there are certain traits that we say are highly conserved.” These are so important to the function of the life of that animal; they tend not to chance much. Once you’ve got the basic set-up, it’d be dangerous to tinker too much. That’s one of the reasons why overall skull-shape is pretty consistent. With the exception of apes like us (and even some of them), most mammals have long, narrow skulls. Flatter faces are extremely rare for that exact reason. Pugs have a lot of health problems, and that’s because it’s a bad idea to mess with the bone that holds your brain and handles everything from seeing and smelling to eating and breathing.To figure out what might be the cause, researchers scanned in hundreds of dogs’ skulls (don’t worry, most were coming in for a routine vet visit), and then made computer models. They then tied these models to different breeds. In all, there were 84 recognized breeds and 83 mixed dogs. They then checked that data against the DNA markers that differ among different breeds. They found that an array of markers in the SMOC2 gene. SMOC2 controls parts of cranial development (as you might suspect), and variations in that gene, like the long interspersed nuclear element (or LINE-1), can interfere with the process.AdChoices广告The paper, published in Current Biology, isn’t the whole story, though. In science, you can do some cool statistics to work out what percentage of your results are caused by your variable. When researchers looked at their data, they found that these markers account for only 38% of the total smooshness in pupper/doggo faces. That means that we can probably expect a few more discoveries on this front, but for now, be assured that science is hard at work learning just what makes your pooch so cuuuuuuute. Geek Pick: Fi Smart Dog Collar Sniffs Out Your PetMan Saves Dog Left Tied to Electrical Cord on Side of Interstate Overpass last_img