Vadim Ghirda / AP

Many domesticated animals have several traits in common in a set known as "domestication syndrome," a term coined by Charles Darwin. It includes curly tails, floppy ears, childlike faces, small skulls, round snouts, and longer reproductive seasons. A trio of researchers and a four decades-long study in Siberia have narrowed down why these traits might be prominent in domesticated animals, and how they might be linked to genetics.

Floppy-eared fox study: The two researchers in Siberia hypothesized that the domestication process was linked to one trait: tameness, or acting less aggressive and more fearful of humans than was typical for their species. They also hypothesized that these traits were genetically linked.

  • The methods: Breeding the tamest foxes and observing trait development over time.
  • The results: Each subsequent generation was tamer than the last. Within 10 years of the study one fox pup exhibited floppy ears that never went away (most foxes maintain floppy ears for about two weeks in the wild). Many of the foxes at this stage in the study also exhibited other traits of domestication, supporting the hypothesis.
  • Go deeper in their article via American Scientist.

The genetic links: A trio of researchers thought tameness might be linked to the domestication traits through stem cells, known as neural crest cells, which migrate to different parts of the body when vertebrates are still embryos. The hypothesis is that tameness is linked with a smaller number of neural crest cells, which are linked to domestication traits.

  • They compared previous thinking on the matter, they present the hypothesis and propose genetic and evolutionary questions, and finally some predictions about what experiments could show.
  • Go deeper in their article via Genetics.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Wall Street fears meltdown over election and Supreme Court

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump's vow to name her replacement to the Supreme Court before November's election are amplifying Wall Street's worries about major volatility and market losses ahead of and even after the election.

The big picture: The 2020 election is the most expensive event risk on record, per Bloomberg — with insurance bets on implied volatility six times their normal level, according to JPMorgan analysts. And it could take days or even weeks to count the record number of mail-in ballots and declare a winner.

Election clues county by county

Ipsos and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics are out with an interactive U.S. map that goes down to the county level to track changes in public sentiment that could decide the presidential election.

How it works: The 2020 Political Atlas tracks President Trump's approval ratings, interest around the coronavirus, what's dominating social media and other measures, with polling updated daily — enhancing UVA's "Crystal Ball."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,605,656 — Total deaths: 970,934 Total recoveries: 21,747,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,897,432 — Total deaths: 200,814 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

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