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Weekly News Roundup 3/12 to 3/18

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Texas A&M research uncovers first known COVID-19 UK variant in animals

The United Kingdom variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected for the first time in a dog and a cat from the same household in Brazos County, Texas, as part of a study led by researchers at Texas A&M University. The first reported finding of the human variant virus in any animal worldwide, this detection of the UK variant in animals in a natural household setting reinforces the importance of having procedures in place to monitor the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome as it crosses species barriers. This would provide specialists with both insights and more time to study potential new variants before they spread through animal or human populations. . . . more

Most popular dog breeds Of 2020: Labs and French bulldogs

Many people coped with the pandemic year, in part, by welcoming a dog into their home. But some people were very particular about what kind of dogs they chose. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has released its rankings of the most popular dog breeds of 2020. The most popular? The Labrador Retriever—for the 30th straight year. But there was movement in the number two slot, where French bulldogs displaced German shepherds. More than 98,300 people registered Labs in AKC’s registry last year. That number was about 66,500 for French bulldogs. The AKC only registers purebred dogs. The Club says it saw its registrations increase 20% in 2020 over 2019. . . . more

Scientists grow mouse embryos in a mechanical womb

The mouse embryos looked perfectly normal. All their organs were developing as expected, along with their limbs and circulatory and nervous systems. Their tiny hearts were beating at a normal 170 beats per minute. But these embryos were not growing in a mother mouse. They were developed inside an artificial uterus, the first time such a feat has been accomplished, scientists reported on Wednesday. . . . more

These adorable puppies may help explain why dogs understand our body language

Researchers have used a large group of puppies to show dogs’ ability to understand human pointing—a rarity in the animal kingdom—appears to be hardwired in doggy DNA. Scientists have long known that dogs understand the logic behind the surprisingly complex gesture: When we point at something, we want them to look at it. But it’s been unclear whether pooches acquire this ability simply by hanging out with us, or it’s encoded in their genes. “It’s the one piece of the puzzle we don’t have evidence for,” says Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona. . . . more

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