03 October 2013

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: On the origins of bacon

Pig Photo by mgabelmann.
Over at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! Noah Reid takes a look at a new study of the recent evolutionary history of pigs:

Domestic pigs are in the family Suidae, which includes the babirusas, warthogs, the endangered pygmy hog (whose generic name is, Porcula, seems a likely candidate for America’s next tragic children’s cereal) and the domestic pig’s close relatives in the genus Sus. Depending on where you draw the lines, there are around 7 species in Sus. With the exception of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) their natural ranges are restricted to Southeast Asia west of Wallace’s Line.

Because domestic pigs are prone to going feral and getting, um, re-familiarized with their wild relatives, unravelling their history using genetic data is tricky business. To see what the new study found, go read the whole thing.◼

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