'Survival of the Cutest' Proves Darwin Right

ScienceDaily (Jan. 21, 2010) — Domestic dogs have followed their own evolutionary path, twisting Darwin's directive 'survival of the fittest' to their own needs -- and have proved him right in the process, according to a new study by biologists Chris Klingenberg, of The University of Manchester and Abby Drake, of the College of the Holy Cross in the US.

The study, published in The American Naturalist on January 20, 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 seals and walruses.

It found 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.

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