Myostatin. We won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard this word before, unless you have a knack for biology. Myostatin is a protein. A very important protein because it controls muscle cell growth. Actually, it inhibits muscle differentiation. Therefore, animals either lacking myostatin or treated with substances that block its activity have significantly more muscle mass. A single genetic tweak can turn a normal animal into a zoological bodybuilder. There are animals with naturally occurring mutations in the myostatin gene. When carefully bred, their offspring show dramatic “double muscling” and remarkable strength. On the other hand, scientist can introduce a mutation into genetic code of an animal making its muscles develop beyond the point they would naturally. The animals you’ll see below are the most impressive examples of how only one gene mutation can transform an animal into an ultra ripped creature.
Belgian Blue Bulls
If you watched videos of matadors fighting huge raging bulls, you would be undoubtedly scared of just walking by Belgian Blue bulls. These muscle-bound hunks are living proof of the genetic power of many decades of selective breeding. Due to a naturally occurring genetic variation in a gene encoding the production of myostatin and consequently increased number of muscle fibers, they have hyper-muscular physique, as well as their meat has reduced fat and increased tenderness.
The story of Wendy the Bully Whippet became an absolute media hit. She’s even more amazing, as Wendy is only one of few naturally ripped representatives of this breed in the world. Normally, whippets are lean and sleek. However, Wendy and the like have bulging neck muscles, burly shoulders and enviable abs due to the same genetic mutation we’ve already explored in Belgian Blue bulls. However, their cases slightly differ because the myostatin gene mutation turns some whippets into pumped-up beasts, while the other doggies remain slim, yet they become the fastest dog champions on the track.
Asian Double-Muscled Pigs
Do you remember mutant warthog Bebop from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Well, Chinese and South Korean scientists started using genetic engineering to create extremely buff pigs. Don’t be afraid! It’s not a typical genetic modification. Genetic engineering is a much faster way to achieve what scientists used to do through breeding – they don’t transfer genetic information from one species to another. Experts just edit a gene that affects the myostatin production. This is why it’s an absolutely safe way to create amazing double-muscled pigs with lean meat. However, scientists still have a huge problem – the new breed of piglets is considerable less healthy than ordinary swines. While the demand for pork in Asia is growing, Chinese scientists are expected to solve this challenge as soon as possible.