Kangaroo genes 'close to humans'

Scientists say first kangaroo gene map shows surprising similarities to humans.

    Scientists say kangaroos and humans share a surprising degree of similarity in their genes [Reuters]

    "There is great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome."

    "There is great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome"

    Jenny Graves,
    Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics

    The scientists behind the study believe kangaroos, Australia's largest marsupial, first evolved in China before migrating across the Americas to Australia and Antarctica.

    Australia is home to 26 species of kangaroo and 200 different marsupials, but only the Tammar wallaby was used in the study.

    According to Graves, the study found that humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago.

    In comparison mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago.

    Earlier this year scientists unravelled the genome sequence for another uniquely Australian animal, the duck-billed platypus.

    Graves said the findings from the kangaroo genome would be "hugely informative" for scientists looking to understand how humans evolved.

    "We go back in time and compare ourselves with a mouse and a kangaroo and a platypus and a chicken and that tells us how our genomes evolved," she said.

    "It's kind of like looking at the stars and trying to imagine the big bang."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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