Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nature 1, nurture 0

In a race between the relative powers of nature and nurture on Saturday, nature won.

Idaho Star and Idaho Gem, two identical mule clones who are the siblings of a champion racing horse, respectively won first and second place
with three hundredths of a second between them on Saturday in a preliminary round to next week's 20th annual Winnemucca Mule Race, Show & Draft Horse Challenge, according to this article on

Observing clones (as well as identical twins) helps scientists determine the relative influences of nature (genes) and nurture (environment). Born out of the Project Idaho collaboration, the 3-year-old mules have been reared and trained separately for the past two years. Because they share the same genes, any differences in physical performance should be attributable to environmental influences.

The fact that the two mules performed virtually identically therefore suggests that genes play a strong role in athletic performance
at least in mules. And because both did so well, the cloning process does not appear to have damaged or weakened them in any observable way, at least at this point.

Stay tuned for more updates after next Sunday's race, during which the clones will compete against six naturally-bred animals.


Blogger Melinda Wenner said...

Slight correction: Apparently Idaho Star and Idaho Gem did not win first and second place, but instead raced separately and won first place in each of their respective heats. But they didn't do so well in the next day's race...I will try to post an update soon! Cheers, Melinda

7:12 PM  

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