Thoroughbred Race Horses All Traced to One 17th-Century Mare

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Aug 30, 2011
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All the great names in thoroughbred horse racing — from Secretariat to Man O'War, from Seabiscuit to Seattle Slew — they're all related, and a team of geneticists has now traced their talent for speed back to a single ancestor. The "speed gene" that made them all so fast was apparently a genetic aberration, and it probably started with one British mare who lived in the mid-17th century.

Emmeline Hill of University College Dublin led a team that analyzed DNA in 593 horses from 22 modern breeds, as well as museum specimens from 12 historically famous stallions. Modern genetics have become sophisticated enough that they could tell, with considerable precision, what the horses had in common.

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