Genomic Diversity and Evolution
of head creast in the Rock Pigeon
Charles Darwin would be very pleased that his theory has finally been scientifically proven from the DNA sequence results carried out by Michael Shapiro, a biologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The outcome of his study, published 31st January 2013, being that all fancy pigeons are descended from the rock dove Columba livia.
Darwin made great mention of the point in Origin of Species, 1859, that the blue rock pigeon coloration could be produced by crossing fancy pigeon breeds. He was assisted in breed selection by well known Victorian pigeon fanciers of the time and today Shapiro acknowledges that modern fancy pigeon fanciers have a good genetic knowledge of their chosen breeds and helped him in supplying feather samples and breeds for his research.
Darwin struggled greatly with such mutations as crest and feathered feet at a time when the science of pigeon breeding was unknown. It was not to be attempted for another 50 years and even then with little progress. I am sure Charles Darwin would have been checking his daily postal delivery for news from Utah with the confirmation of his theory. Well done to Michael Shapiro and his team for having the vision to continue in the footsteps of Charles Darwin with his research into the far from humble pigeon.