Thursday, April 17, 2008

Domestic Animals: Diverse Phenotypes Imply Diverse genotypes

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I distrust the narrowing of the gene pool that comes from closed studbooks. Right now the Central Asian sighthound gene pool is vast and diverse; many want to cut it into several standardized breeds. One reason i fear regulation is because I work against this trend with dogs.

I do the same with pigeons. Pigeons do not have closed studbooks but do have standards, and to win in shows many do the same as dog breeders, ending up with exaggerated pigeons that are almost clones of each other. I breed several old Mediterranean and Spanish breeds but try to keep them as diverse and healthy as they were in the 19th or even the 17th Century, outcrossing if necessary. I can show you in my loft and library.

Here is a"good" specimen of a Spanish Barb, a favorite, but not a show Barb. This is a functional bird that can raise its own young. Show Barbs have much more wattle and cere (eye ring) and a VERY short beak. Nowadays, you rarely see a crested or feather- legged Barb; I have both. Mine also vary considerably in size.

Here is a crested Barb from Aldrovandi's Ornithologiae, ca 1600:

Here is a similar one, slightly more realistic-- Willughby's Ornithology, 1688:

Here is one from Darwin's Animals and Plants Under Domestication, almost like my "good" one:

And here are a few of mine including a crested one, black and white, with a little Catalonian for scale (though these are related breeds with a "link" breed, the Ojo de Fresa, and I have Barbs almost as small as Cats.

I will NEVER breed these, or my dogs, to anyone's standard.

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