Fancy Pigeon (and English Carrier, top right) Breeds

Easily domesticated, with short generation times and friendly disposition, pigeons have long been ideal for “fancy” breeders - people who wanted to breed an animal based on looks, like the majority of modern dog and cat breeds.

Where the standard carrier pigeon is the simply-colored greyhound of the sky, fancy pigeons are everything from the problem-ridden, overly-droopy modern iteration of the basset hound, to the functional-but-fancy Cardigan Welsh corgi, to the ornamental-but-sound Maltese.

A fancy pigeon show is more like a cat show than a dog show, though. The breeds have largely been derived for their looks, though a few (such as the Maine Coon cat, or the Scandaroon pigeon) served additional purposes at some point in time. The animals are kept in cages, divided by color and type, and are most prized if they’re relaxed with handling, but still the type to “strut” and show off.

Read more about some of the most popular fancy pigeon breeds on Mental_floss.


Illustrirtes Mustertauben-Buch. Author unknown, 1880.

risingaboveeveryday: The tumblr “nowyoukno” just posted a “factoid” about “the extremely rare and majestic golden tiger”. Just thought I’d say something.

(Here is the post)

I’m posting this because I could not reply back to you via private messaging nor could I access your ask box.

I just viewed nowyoukno’s blog, its just like all the other ‘factoid’ blogs where they just post 'facts’ with a source back to wiki, and they don’t explain anything further. I was thinking about reblogging it, but I thought explaining on here would be the same anyways. So, yes, from what I’ve read and researched, there seems to be approximately 30 or less golden tigers worldwide (all captive), but the problem (which the nowyoukno blog conveniently left out) is that they’ve been extremely, extremely inbred to acquire their phenotype. Although the color morph is rare, which I believe is only found in captive specimens, the golden tiger is not rare because it is not a separate subspecies and therefore cannot be endangered (tigers in general are an endangered species, but the specific golden tiger is not - golden tigers are also impure, meaning they’ve been inbred, plus they might be mixed tigers or tiger 'mutts’, with no pure genetic lines, and cannot aid conservation). Factoid posts like these really bother me because they spread misinformation or purposefully leave out information, its just annoying, idk. 

Mummies' Height Reveals Incest

The height of the pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt supports historical records that they might have married their sisters and cousins, says new research into 259 mummies.

It’s known from historical sources that incestuous marriages were common among the ancient Egyptian royalty. The pharaohs believed they descended from the gods so inbreeding was seen as a way to retain the sacred bloodline.

But it is hard to prove incest in royal marriages through genetic testings because of ethical consideration when destroying mummies’ tissues.

Frank Rühli, director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, and colleagues used a highly hereditable character, body height, to look for evidence of incest in 259 mummies of both commoners and royals. Read more.

Meet Old Gray Guy, the wolf who saved Isle Royale. 

In 1949, a pair of wolves wandered across an ice bridge made to the Isle Royale, during a harsh winter from Ontario. Since that winter, the wolves that live on Lake Superior’s Isle Royale are completely isolated from all other wolves. Inbreeding was becoming a serious threat for the wolf population.

But in 1997, one immigrant male wolf injected some much-needed fresh genes into the mix, and we know because of the poop he left behind. The arrival of this extremely virile wolf may go a long way to keep the population genetically viable.

The Old Gray Guy (so-named because as he aged his fur became very pale, an unusual phenomenon) was larger and more territorial than most of the native wolves. His own pack grew to an unusually large 10 wolves, and displaced and drove to extinction one of the other 4 packs on Isle Royale. It was determined that by 2009, 56% of the wolves on Isle Royale had descended from Old Gray Guy. By the end of his eight years of breeding, he produced 34 pups.

Scientists expected that this would create a “genetic rescue” population boom, but it did not happen. The average reproduction after the Old Gray Guy arrived was no different from before. Yet this does not mean that he had no effect. What excites researchers about the Old Gray Guy is that he may have performed genetic rescue, which involves the sudden influx of new genes into an otherwise stale population. Isolated populations risk losing genetic diversity, which in turn makes them far more vulnerable to being totally wiped out by disease.

Sadly, the genetic rescue may have come too late for the Isle Royale wolves. While there were once three packs, now there’s only 8 wolves left, who suffer inbreeding problems, and right now it’s most likely their population will die off.

Read more on the current status of wolves on Isle Royale here.

(Old Gray Guy is the lighter coloured wolf in the middle of the picture)

anonymous asked:

Um, can I ask why purebred dogs have so many problems? Or is there already a post on the subject?

The concept of purebred dogs is not a bad one; it’s just the state of many purebred dogs (and other animals) is awful right now.

Theoretically, having a purebred dog would be a way of determining size, looks, and approximate temperament of the animal you are hoping to get. And that is generally a good thing; some owners live in apartments and some live on farms, some want working dogs and some want lapdogs. It’s good for both the owner and the animal if they match up.

Where breeding can go wrong is when the looks and price of an animal matter more than the quality of life that its genes will cause it to have.

The two main issues affecting purebred animals can be summarized to inbreeding depression and overbreeding, both of which I’ll discuss in detail (and with science) below.

Keep reading


Genetic Researchers Solve Mystery of White Tigers

The white tiger is a rare pigmentation variant of the Bengal tiger. Records of white tigers in India date back to the 1500s, in Assam, Bengal, Bihar and especially from the former State of Rewa. They appear able to survive in the wild, as their primary prey, such as deer, are probably colorblind. The animals were widely hunted, and the last known free-ranging white tiger was shot in 1958. Habitat destruction, illegal poaching, and disease via tsetse fly probably contributed to the cats’ decline in the wilderness.

Captive white tigers have been inbred to preserve the recessive white coat trait, leading some to speculate the trait is a genetic defect - a very similar practice to achieve purebred ‘pedigree’ dogs, cats and horses. (unfortunately there are breeders that follow the unscrupulous practice of a mill by carelessly churning out these coveted exotic breeds to sell to wannabe owners, resulting in major defects)

The latest studies conducted by author Shu-Jin Luo of China’s Peking University, shines a new light in how the strikingly beautiful, milky coats of white tigers are caused by a single change in a known pigment gene called SLC45A2, which is linked to light coloration in modern Europeans as well as horses, chickens and fish.

Luo’s team mapped the genomes of a family of 16 tigers — both white and orange. The researchers also sequenced the full genomes of the three parent tigers. They validated their findings in 130 unrelated tigers. The gene variant explains why the majestic cats lack the rich orange shade of their feline cousins but still have their famous dark stripes.

Luo and colleagues are calling for a captive management program to maintain both white and orange Bengal tigers, and possibly to reintroduce the cats back into the wild.

The findings are detailed (May 23 - 2013) in the journal Current Biology.

via national geographic / livescience / sci-news / actionbioscience / ap / getty / puihang miles 


Inbred royals show traces of natural selection

Study suggests the Spanish Habsburgs evolved to mute the effects of inbreeding, but other geneticists are unconvinced.

“King Charles II of Spain was physically and mentally disabled, infertile — and extremely inbred. When he died in 1700, aged 38, so did the male line of the Spanish Habsburg royal family, as famous for their pointed jaws as for their extreme consanguinity.

A provocative analysis now suggests that the Habsburg royal family might have evolved under natural selection over three centuries to blunt the worst effects of inbreeding. Evolutionary theory predicts such a ‘purging’ process, and researchers have documented the effect in animals and plants. But evidence among humans is scant — in part because of the dearth of data on inbred families spanning many generations.

Royal families such as the Habsburgs are an ideal place to look, says Francisco Ceballos, a geneticist at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, who led the research. He and colleague Gonzalo Álvarez used written records to track the marriages, births and deaths of 4,000 individuals across more than 20 generations. “The royal dynasties of Europe are a lab of inbreeding for human populations,” says Ceballos. The team’s study is published this month in Heredity1(read more).

***I’m going with a statistical fluke.

(Source: Nature)

Seaworld's Superb "Inbreeding" Program, Lack of Genetic Diversity Among Captive Orca

 With orca numbers dwindling across marine parks, lack of genetic diversity is taking a toll.  Already we are seeing inbreeding taking place within parks across the nation. The root behind all of the inbreeding is, of course, Seaworld.

On September 18, 2006 the first inbred orca was born at Seaworld Florida. This calf, named Nalani, was sired by Taku, who is also her brother, their mother is Katina, who is also Nalani’s grandmother. Nalani was raised by her mother/grandmother and seem’s to have suffered no ill effects from the inbreeding other than forever having “tainted” bloodlines. Nalani will be seven years old this year.

However, the United States isn’t the only country getting away with inbreeding their orca. In Spain, inbred orca seem to be a new goal for one park. 

Below: Nalani, world’s first captive inbred orca

“In February 2006, Loro Parque,located on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz in TenerifeSpain, received four young orca: two males, Keto (born in 1995) and Tekoa (born in 2000), and two females, Kohana (2002) and Skyla (2004) on loan from Seaworld. SeaWorld still maintains ownership of these animals, and is therefore responsible for them.” --

The above quote states that four orca were sent to Spain on loan to Loro Parque. These orca have been used to create even more inbred orca, since Seaworld Florida’s success with Nalani.

In 2010, eight year old Kohana rejected her first calf, forcing park officials at Loro Parque to hand raise the baby. Kohana showed no interest in the calf, later named Adan, at all. But, Kohana had every right to be wary of her calf, and this is why: Kohana’s mother is Takara, the half-sister of Keto; and Keto’s sire is Kotar, who is also Kohana’s grandfather. Therefore, following family ties, Kohana was bred to her own uncle. Perhaps this highly intelligent female orca knew something was amiss with her calf? Then by rejecting him she would “fix” what was wrong in the gene pool? Only Kohana knows the answer. 

Below: Adan being “handled” by park trainers

The breeding of the four orca on loan from Seaworld is authorized by the corporation. In short, this mean’s Seaworld agrees to knowingly breed orca of the same relation in order to “boost their numbers”. SeaWorld’s gene pool has been drastically diluted by inbreeding, but to thrive in the captive cetacean industry, they need orca.

On August 3, 2012 Adan acquired a sister. Kohana gave birth, after a one hour labor, to a calf named Victoria, “Vicky”. Unfortunately Vicky would suffer the same rejection by her mother and have to be raised by park trainers and officials. Vicky, is also the daughter of Keto, making her and Adan full sibling’s; both inbred and both authorized to be produced by Seaworld. Vicky has Kotar as a grandfather on Keto’s side, and also as a great-grandfather on Kohana’s side, (through Takara).  

 Shockingly, when all orca lines are tied together, Vicky is blood-related to 21 of 26 SeaWorld whales, the only male orca that Vicky is not related to, is Ulysses  Ulysses was considered unable to produce offspring although he did sire one calf born in 2011 after artificial insemination.

Now, at roughly 5 months old, she spends most her days in the small medical pool with her brother Adan;  both are rejected by all orca at the park and are rarely housed with any of them for their own protection. 

Below: Vicky has obvious physical signs from her inbred bloodlines, almost classified as deformalities.

The Center for Whale Research, says female orca in the wild, “give birth every three years starting at age 13.” Also, according to National Marine Mammal Laboratory, “whales usually give birth every 3 to 10 years.”

Recently it has been reported that Kohana is being kept with Keto more often, making it only a matter of time before she becomes pregnant and yet another inbred orca is born. Kohana is ten years old and has given birth twice in the span of two years, earlier and more frequently than she would in the wild; Something that would never happen between family members among wild orca. 

In the wild, orca do not breed within their small “sub-pods” made up of closely related individuals. It is only when pods of the same genetic make-up, such as fish eating or seal eating orca, meet up and create what is known as a “super-pod” does breeding take place. Therefore, members of the same family never breed with one another and new blood is always inserted into the wild orca gene pool. 

Below: Southern Resident Orca calf, J49 (born August 6, 2012), swimming with his mother, J37, and pod. Photo by: John Boyd 

However, Seaworld seem’s to have found way’s to try and save their captive orca gene’s from being further corrupted by their inbreeding. 

One way for Seaworld and Loro Parque to add new gene’s to their captive bloodlines is by breeding Loro Parque’s newest obtained orca, Morgan. Morgan is roughly five years old and was “rescued” from the wild after being “abandoned” by her family and left alone. She was recently deemed unsuitable for release back into the wild by a court due to Loro Parque’s discovery that she is deaf. No one know’s for sure if she is in fact deaf, and many believe it is a lie in order for them to keep her captive. Morgan is bullied by the other orca at Loro Parque and suffer's hideous rake marks and stress. Another interesting fact is that Loro Parque was told Morgan was not to be trained for shows or used for breeding, and yet photo’s show her being trained, used in shows and being kept in the same pool with Keto. 

Below: Morgan being bullied by other orca at Loro Parque. Trainer’s seem oblivious to the tension between the several orca.

In Argentina, there is a male orca by the name of Kshamenk who lives alone at Mundo Marino, a marine park. His living conditions are unlike any other captive orca, and his health is deteriorating. Instead of Seaworld stepping in to help Kshamenk, and save him, they made a deal with Mundo Marino. It has been learned and reported by Tim Zimmerman that captive Seaworld orca Kasatka is due to give birth sometime next month, and the father is Kshamenk. Seaworld obtained semen from Kshamenk by most likely paying Mundo Marino a pretty penny, therefore “helping” Seaworld’s gene pool expand some. 

Below: Kshamenk in his tiny pool at Mundo Marino

The breeding of cetacean’s must be outlawed within the United States, it has to stop. The only way to better the lives of these animal’s is to stop breeding them for profit and allow them to comfortably live out the rest of their shortened lives in as much peace as possible. End the breeding, end the captivity. End the slavery.

*Please note: I own no right’s to any photo’s used in this article and gain no profit of any kind by using the photo’s, therefore I hereby claim the rights given to me by the “Fair Use Act”. All credit for photo’s used goes to original photographer’s. 

Skulls of early humans carry telltale signs of inbreeding

Buried for 100,000 years at Xujiayao in the Nihewan Basin of northern China, the recovered skull pieces of an early human exhibit a now-rare congenital deformation that indicates inbreeding might well have been common among our ancestors, new research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Washington University in St. Louis suggests.

The skull, known as Xujiayao 11, has an unusual perforation through the top of the brain case – an enlarged parietal foramen (EPF) or “hole in the skull” – that is consistent with modern humans diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation in the homeobox genes ALX4 on chromosome 11 and MSX2 on chromosome 5.

These specific genetic mutations interfere with bone formation and prevent the closure of small holes in the back of the prenatal braincase, a process that is normally completed within the first five months of fetal development. It occurs in about one out of every 25,000 modern human births.

Although this genetic abnormality is sometimes associated with cognitive deficits, the older adult age of Xujiayao 11 suggests that any such deficits in this individual were minor.

Traces of genetic abnormalities, such as EPF, are seen unusually often in the skulls of Pleistocene humans, from early Homo erectus to the end of the Paleolithic.

“The probability of finding one of these abnormalities in the small available sample of human fossils is very low, and the cumulative probability of finding so many is exceedingly small,” suggests study co-author Erik Trinkaus, the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The presence of the Xujiayao and other Pleistocene human abnormalities therefore suggests unusual population dynamics, most likely from high levels of inbreeding and local population instability.” It therefore provides a background for understanding populational and cultural dynamics through much of human evolution.

craigslisthorses rabicanomare this is a different lady, but same idea… I *kindof* get what she’s saying, at least about the ‘if anyhing nasty pops up don’t breed either again’ but sometimes stuff doesn’t show up for years. And even if you get a totally amazing horse, it’s still just not healthy. Stallions in the wild chase their daughters off when they get to a certain age, for a reason.

I’m really quite pleased to have this story gathered and compiled all into one place. The transparency that Carole has with her past and the beginnings of what is now Big Cat Rescue is extremely important. It’s a story similar to a lot of rescue organizations and it’s crucial to acknowledge the journey to where they are now, and how up front they are about it. Carole’s background in breeding and her brief involvement in the pet trade, I think, give her a unique level of credibility. She’s been there. She’s been a part of that industry and was so negatively affected that she dedicated her entire life to re-designing her facility into the largest accredited rescue and educational sanctuary for exotic cats. And I think that’s something.

Neck ribs in woolly mammoths provide clues about their decline and eventual extinction

NATURAL WORLD March 25, 2014 

Researchers recently noticed that the remains of woolly mammoths from the North Sea often possess a ‘cervical’ (neck) rib—in fact, 10 times more frequently than in modern elephants (33.3% versus 3.3%).

In modern animals, these cervical ribs are often associated with inbreeding and adverse environmental conditions during pregnancy. If the same factors were behind the anomalies in mammoths, this reproductive stress could have further pushed declining mammoth populations towards ultimate extinction.

Mammals, even the long-necked giraffes and the short-necked dolphins, almost always have seven neck vertebrae (exceptions being sloths, manatees and dugongs), and these vertebrae do not normally possess a rib. Therefore, the presence of a ‘cervical rib’ (a rib attached to a cervical vertebra) is an unusual event, and is cause for further investigation. A cervical rib itself is relatively harmless, but its development often follows genetic or environmental disturbances during early embryonic development. As a result, cervical ribs in most mammals are strongly associated with stillbirths and multiple congenital abnormalities that negatively impact the lifespan of an individual.

Researchers from the Rotterdam Museum of Natural History and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden examined mammoth and modern elephant neck vertebrae from several European museum collections. “It had aroused our curiosity to find two cervical vertebrae, with large articulation facets for ribs, in the mammoth samples recently dredged from the North Sea.

We knew these were just about the last mammoths living there, so we suspected something was happening. Our work now shows that there was indeed a problem in this population”, said Jelle Reumer, one of the authors on the study published today in the open access journal PeerJ.

The incidence of abnormal cervical vertebrae in mammoths is much higher than in the modern sample, strongly suggesting a vulnerable condition in the species. Potential factors could include inbreeding (in what is assumed to have been an already small population) as well as harsh conditions such as disease, famine, or cold, all of which can lead to disturbances of embryonic and fetal development. Given the considerable birth defects that are associated with this condition, it is very possible that developmental abnormalities contributed towards the eventual extinction of these late Pleistocene mammoths.

The peer-reviewed study, entitled “Extraordinary incidence of cervical ribs indicates vulnerable condition in Late Pleistocene mammoths” was authored by Jelle Reumer of the Rotterdam Museum of Natural History and Clara ten Broek and Frietson Galis of Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden).