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Acta zoológica mexicana

versión On-line ISSN 2448-8445versión impresa ISSN 0065-1737


BAPTISTA, Luis Felipe; MARTINEZ GOMEZ, Juan Esteban  y  HORBLIT, Helen Mary. Darwin's pigeons and the evolution of the columbiforms: recapitulation of ancient genes. Acta Zool. Mex [online]. 2009, vol.25, n.3, pp.719-741. ISSN 2448-8445.

To commemorate the sesquicentennial of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection", we address an essential topic in this publication. Domestic pigeons were extremely important in shaping Darwin's theory of evolution: pigeons featured prominently not only in his "Origin of Species", but also in his treatise on "Variation under Domestication", in his "Descent of Man" and finally in his "Expression of Emotions". Darwin saw the process of domestication as solid evidence demonstrating the power of selection. He argued convincingly that all domestic pigeon breeds (some 150 in his day) descended from one ancestral species, the Rock Dove (Columba livia), and that from this single species, humans selected directionally for colors, sizes, shapes, peculiarities of bill shape and length, plumage characteristics and voice qualities. While these domestic races achieved remarkable morphological differentiation under selection in the course of human generations, extant genera of pigeons (Columbiformes) have attained similar traits during the course of natural selection in the wild. We present a comparison of such characters between modern domestic breeds of the Rock Dove, the original Darwin's Pigeons plus new breeds, and wild pigeon species to encourage further studies on their evolution in the light of molecular techniques not available at Darwin's time.

Palabras llave : Darwin's pigeons; domestication; natural selection; Columbia livia; Columbiformes.

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