St. Bernard’s evolution challenges theory of creationism, says study

November 14th, 2007 - 2:48 am ICT by admin  
Biologists led by Dr Chris Klingenberg in the Faculty of Life Sciences, examined the skulls of 47 St Bernards spanning 120 years donated by Swiss breeders to the Natural History Museum in Berne. These included the examples to those of dogs dating back to the time when the breed standard was first defined.

Dr Klingenberg said they discovered that the features stipulated in the breed standard became more “exaggerated over time as breeders selected dogs that had the desired physical attributes”.

“We discovered that features stipulated in the breed standard of the St Bernard n effect they have applied selection to move the evolutionary process a considerable way forward, providing a unique opportunity to observe sustained evolutionary change under known selective pressures,” said Dr Klingenberg.

Compared to their ancestors, modern St Bernards have broader skulls, while the angle between the nose and the forehead is steeper in modern dogs and they have also developed a more pronounced ridge above the eyes.

“These changes are exactly in those features described as desirable in the breed standards. They are clearly not due to other factors such as general growth and they provide the animal with no physical advantage, so we can be confident that they have evolved purely through the selective considerations of breeders,” said Dr Klingenberg.

“Creationism is the belief that all living organisms were created according to Genesis in six days by ‘intelligent design’ and rejects the scientific theories of natural selection and evolution.

“But this research once again demonstrates how selection - whether natural or, in this case, artificially influenced by man - is the fundamental driving force behind the evolution of life on the planet,” he said.

The findings appear in current issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (ANI)

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