Surely you’ve heard of Lil Bub, a magical dwarf cat that is wildly popular on the internet. She currently even has over 2 million fans on her Instagram page. Not only that, she also has a book, her own album, a stage production and even a talk show!
So what makes Lil Bub so… well, Lil Bub? Thanks to Dario Lupianez, a member of a team of international molecular biologists, set out to find out exactly that.
The Makings of Lil Bub
Lupianez and his team didn’t skimp in the effort to find out why Lil Bub is the way she is, and even though they’ve never actually met her in person, he had this to say about her:
“We can definitely say she’s magical. I remember the moment when we first saw her on the Skype video and we were just like, Uhhh…”
Lil Bub is famous for her stunted growth, adorably huge green eyeballs and tongue that almost always seems to be sticking out. She weighs just four pounds, has an extra toe on each of her paws (for a total of 22!), and she never developed any teeth.
Her owner, Mike Bridavsky, was also very curious about what Lil Bub’s DNA might reveal, stating, “She’s quite literally one in infinity, you could say, as far as a genetic anomaly. I personally was convinced that they would find that her DNA was not from our planet, which is what I was hoping for, or there was some crazy prehistoric DNA – that she was part dinosaur.”
Gene Mutation Detected
As a result of the four-year study, it was found that Lil Bub had the same mutation that caused Ernest Hemingway’s cats to have six toes – which means Lil Bub is most likely distantly related.
They also found out that she has osteopetrosis, and found a mutation in one of her genes called RANK/TNFSF11A. This is a rare gene that has been found in only one mouse and 15 humans. All of which appear physically similar to Lil Bub.
Her owner was happy that this research might help others, saying, “I think Bub is here for a reason, and I thought that something could come out of sequencing her DNA for medical research and for science… and that’s exactly what happened.”