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In March, veterinary ophthalmologists at Cornell University zeroed in on the gene that causes a form of blindness in dogs. In so doing, they also found that the gene map closely matches one on the human genome.

The research was no anomaly—for humans or for Fido. The scientists were working on the dog genome project, which is similar to its larger cousin, the Human Genome Project. They aim to map out the 78 canine chromosomes and pinpoint those genes that cause certain diseases, physical attributes, and possibly even behaviors (such as a love for swimming in Newfoundlands and particular attentiveness in Border collies).

In particular, scientists are looking for genes with potential human counterparts. So far there is no indication that it will lead to “cosmetic genetics” (manipulating human genes for more “desirable” traits). Dogs are already an ugly reminder of what happens when you fiddle with the gene pool: Decades of inbreeding have led to a bizarre list of anomalies, such as bulldogs unable to whelp naturally and hyperaggressive pit bulls.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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