New York

Manhattan Has Genetically Distinct Rat Groups: Reports

A study of rat DNA shows there are "uptown" and "downtown" rats, and even "East Village" and "West Village" rats

New York City’s rats are a genetically diverse group of critters whose DNA makeup is influenced by the forces of the city, from the layout of parks and subways, to human social structures, according to a study detailed in The Atlantic.

The study by Fordham graduate student Matthew Combs looks to create a genetic portrait of the city’s most widespread rodent, the brown rat, which arrived in Manhattan from Western Europe in the 1700s and has continued to thrive ever since, according to The Atlantic.

Most strikingly, the study says Manhattan’s rats can be split into “uptown” and “downtown” populations; two genetically distinguishable groups made up of rats north of 59th Street and rats south of 14th Street. The rat populations are split by midtown, a high-rise commercial district devoid of the heaps of food-filled trash and snug backyards that rats prefer, The Atlantic reported.

After trapping and genetically mapping rats across Manhattan over the summer, Combs and his team discovered rats can even be broken down by neighborhood. “If you gave us a rat, we could tell whether it came from the West Village or the East Village,” Combs told The Atlantic. “They’re actually unique little rat neighbors.”

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