{{lfctrl.headTitleStep1}}

{{lfctrl.headCopyStep1}}

An Email Is Headed
Your Way

We've sent a message
so you can pick a new password.

Reset Your Password

Think of a password that is at least 6 characters long.

Success! You now have a new password.

Please be sure to memorize it or write it in a safe place.



Wait!

Are you sure you want to exit?
Your password will not be reset!

{{lfctrl.notice}}


Wait!

Are you sure you don't want to finish?
You're almost done!

We are missing your email address.

Please enter your or your parent's email address. We will only use your email address to reset your password should you forget it.

Sign Up for Free E-Newsletters

(Optional)

You're Signed up for {{nlctrl.form.newsletters.join(',')}}

The next newsletter will arrive in your inbox within a few weeks.

hey, {{userData.username}}!

Edit Your Profile

SORRY!

You can only put stickers
where you see the dotted
circles.

ADD MY STICKER

WAIT!

You have to sign in,
first!

ALL SERIES
HIDE
g Go Back

How the Tabby Got Its Stripes

Could a cheetah's spots and a tabby's stripes come from the same gene?

By Sara Goudarzi

The gene responsible for the special pattern of a cheetah is the same one that gives tabby cats swirls and spots, according to new research.

Genes are units within the DNA of every living thing. They carry information about what makes an organism unique, such as a tabby cat's stripes. Genes are passed down through members of a species and help give each species a distinctive look.

Scientists have discovered that the different kinds of fur patterns on house cats come from the same gene that gives the cheetah its spots. The gene has mutated, or changed, over time among different species and breeds of cats. Scientists now think this mutation defines all the different stripes, swirls, and spots that make a tiger or a lynx distinct from a cheetah or a house cat.

"Mutation of a single gene causes stripes to become blotches [uneven spots or markings] and spots to become stripes," said Greg Barsh, of Stanford University.

THE SCIENCE OF SPOTS

Researchers compared the genetic differences of domestic cats in California that were striped and blotched. They found that blotched cats had a specific mutation in a gene dubbed Taqpep, and striped cats didn't.

Similarly, the king cheetah—which has a striped pattern instead of the typical spots—also has a mutation in Taqpep. This means that the cat's DNA has changed multiple times throughout its evolutionary history. The king cheetah's Taqpep mutation is so distinct from that of other cats that scientists first thought it was a completely different species of cheetah.

"We were motivated by a basic question: How do periodic patterns like stripes and spots in mammals arise?" Barsh explained. "Until now, there's been no obvious biological explanation for cheetah spots or the stripes on tigers, zebras, or even the ordinary house cat."

Scientists plan to next investigate cats whose fur lacks a pattern, such as mountain lions and domestic Himalayan cats. Taqpep mutations are common in cats that lack stripes.

By studying the genetics of cats, scientists hope to get a better understanding of human genetics and associated diseases, such as certain types of cancer.

Comments ({{ commentsCounter }})

For your safety, comments will not appear until the moderator has approved them. Comments may be edited for appropriateness and to remove any personal information.

Write your comment here...
{{$parent.userData.username}}
{{ timestamp | date: "MMMM dd, yyyy 'at' h:mm a"}}
See More Comments
See More Comments

Other news Like This

This Article
Is about...