Modern technology gives us many things.

Genetic comparison of 240 mammal species unravels human evolution

It began at the turn of the century with the publication of the human, chimpanzee and mouse genomes.

Two decades on, the ambitious Zoonomia research project has sequenced and compared the genomes of 240 mammals, an analysis that reveals how we are alike and different from our closest relatives.

The findings are published in 11 separate studies in the leading journal Science.

From the mineralopod (pictured above) and the black whale to the chimpanzee and the domestic cat, the research consortium examined only 4% of the world's mammals, but covered all the major evolutionary lines.

The findings, the researchers say, make it easier to search for genes that cause diseases such as a form of brain cancer called medulloblastoma.

The analysis also revealed the genetic basis of hibernation - data that could also be exploited in medicine - and the particularly strong sense of smell that characterizes some species such as the African elephant and the armadillo. Other species such as dolphins and whales have no sense of smell at all, while humans seem to be in the middle.

"We are harnessing the planet's vast biodiversity to better understand ourselves and advance new discoveries linked to the treatment of human disease," he said in to Reuters η συνεπικεφαλής της κοινοπραξίας Έλινορ Κάρλσον του Ινστιτούτου Broad, μια συν ανάμεσα στο Χάρβαρντ και το MIT.

The armadillo, an American mammal, stands out for its strong sense of smell (

Similarities and differences

One of the individual analyzes showed that at least 10,7% of the human genome is identical to the sequences of almost all other mammals examined.

Οι περιοχές αυτές έχουν διατηρηθεί στην πορεία της ς λόγω της μεγάλης βιολογικής σημασίας τους. Οι περισσότερες αφορούν ρυθμιστικά γονίδια, τα οποία ελέγχουν τη λειτουργία άλλων γονιδίων. Περίπου τα μισά από αυτά τα σταθερά γονίδια χαρακτηρίζονται για πρώτη φορά.

Also, Zoonomia's findings allowed researchers to create a mammalian family tree that confirms that humans and chimpanzees split from their last common ancestor 6-7 million years ago.

Η ανάλυση προσφέρει επίσης στήριξη στην ιδέα ότι τα θηλαστικά άρχισαν να διαφοροποιούνται πριν από περίπου 100 εκατ. χρόνια, πολύ πριν πέσει στη ο αστεροειδής που εξαφάνισε τους δεινόσαυρους πριν από 66 εκατ. χρόνια.

The analysis covered only the group of placental mammals, which give birth to well-developed young, and not the much smaller groups of marsupials (in which the young complete their development in the marsupial) and monotryma (egg-laying mammals).

However, the genetic exploration does not end here. Another ongoing effort is the Vertebrate Genome Project (VPG), which aims to sequence the genomes of all 71.000 known vertebrates, a group that includes mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians.


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