Understanding domestication phenomenon

Plus: NVA splits in two, and is gene editing legal now?

Hello 👋 Welcome to Weekend Rounds. It's like your favorite food delivery app, but instead of delivering cold food after 45 minutes, we're delivering the latest veterinary and animal news piping hot - whether you ordered it or not. Here's what's in the delivery bag today:🏥 NVA spins off its speciality hospitals🦊 Understanding domestication syndrome🧪 Editing the genes of pets🚀 Quick hits

NVA Spins off specialty hospitals

As VIN reported this week, National Veterinary Associates (NVA) is splitting its business entities in two and planning to go public via Initial Public Offering (IPO). NVA currently has the third-largest collection of veterinary practices (behind MARS and IVC Evidensia), but is now looking to move 145 speciality hospitals to a new business entity called Ethos Veterinary Health. NVA has been on an acquisition streak and has encountered some resistance to its speedy growth plans from the US Federal Trade Commission. It's unclear whether or not the decision is in response to concerns that the company had created an 'anticompetitive presence' (their words, not ours).Zoom out: While it may help from a branding standpoint, we're not sure how much this split will help create more competition in the market place in the short term - especially since the companies will operate as a "combined company" even after the split. However, if they do move forward with an IPO to take the companies public, they will be open to scrutiny from shareholders and forced to open their financial books for all to see.

The Origin of (Domesticated) Species...

Charles Darwin may be best known for the theory of natural selection as it pertains to the evolution of wild animals, but he was also one of the first to notice something about domesticated animals as well. What Darwin noticed has since been dubbed domestication syndrome - the phenomenon that the same set of physical and behavioral traits often appear in domesticated animals, including floppy ears, curly tails, and reduced aggression. The reason for these similar traits is hotly debated. The prevailing theory of domestication phenomenon is that it is the result of a process of artificial selection, whereby humans selectively breed and manipulate certain traits in animals for their own purposes, such as for food, transportation, or companionship. Over time, this process leads to changes in the physical and behavioral traits of animals, resulting in the emergence of domesticated breeds that are distinct from their wild ancestors. This theory suggests that domestication is a human-driven process that is distinct from natural selection, which would occur in wild animals. There is also evidence that artificial selection is complemented by a genetic mutation of neural crest cells, which determine the form of many different animal features.But a new paper is suggesting that these two ideas oversimplify the complex evolutionary effects at work. It is not just human selection for tameness that has shifted animal traits over time, it's actually 4 key factors:

  1. less fighting between males

  2. fewer males for females to choose between

  3. more reliable food and fewer predators, and

  4. elevated maternal stress, which initially reduces the health and survival of offspring.

Unerstanding the underlying mechanisms of domestication syndrome could help inform breeding and selection practicesHere are some stories we're following this week from around the veterinary world and animal kingdom:

Quick Hits

Have Any Animals Evolved to Adapt to Human Activity? [Smithsonian]

The best ways to recruit for your veterinary practice [AAHA]

Restoring just nine groups of animals could help combat global warming [New Scientist]

The Cutting-Edge Technology Ruling Out Cancer In Dogs In Veterinary Clinics [Forbes]

Rare Footage of North Atlantic right whale calf feeding [WCVB]

Study: United States will be short 15,000 veterinarians by 2030 [FOX 17]

The battle over the mid level practitioner rages on [AVMA]