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Researchers have proposed a theory that a domesticated animal’s adorable characteristics could be a result of a genetic deficit.
In a new study published in the Genetics Journal, researchers believe that the traits some domesticated animals possess such as floppier ears and juvenile faces may be linked to “domestication syndrome.”
The International Business Times noted that researchers have theorized that the specific traits could be from stem cells called the neural crest. These cells are formed near the spinal cord of early vertebrate embryos. As the animal grows, the cells go elsewhere in the body, creating tissue types which include pigment cells and parts of the jaws and ears as well as the adrenal glands.
Although some of these traits on our furry friends do look awfully cute, they are not really beneficial to the animal. As Discovery News pointed out, the floppy ears on a rabbit are actually a malformed ear cartilage and aren't the greatest characteristic to have when it comes to hearing.
In addition, a smaller brain size in our pets as opposed to their wild relatives, could indirectly be due to neural crest changes.
The study includes more than just dogs and rabbits and uses the same hypothesis for birds and fish traits.