Rats May Be Genetically Adapted to New York Living
by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com
In 2015, a viral video emerged of a rat bouncing down the stairs of a New York City subway station, dragging an entire slice of pizza in its mouth. “Pizza rat,” as the critter was dubbed, was quickly trumpeted as an emblem of the city. It was determined, it loved pizza, and it was seemingly inured to the grimy depths of the city’s transit system. No, there was no doubt about it: This rodent was a New Yorker.
Now, as Robin McKie reports for the Guardian, a new study suggests that the Big Apple’s rats have in fact undergone genetic changes that make them well-suited to life in the concrete jungle—and susceptible to some of the same challenges that are facing humans.
The paper, which has not yet undergone peer review, was published recently on the preprint server bioRxiv. An estimated two million rats scurry about the city, so the researchers behind the study certainly had plenty of subjects to choose from. They just needed to catch the critters—which they did by luring them into traps filled with bacon, peanut butter and oats.
In total, the team sequenced the genomes of 29 NYC brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) and compared them ….read more: