Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gorilla genome sequenced

Cambridge researchers announced today in Nature that the Gorilla genome has been sequenced (subscription required). Gorillas were the last great ape genus to be comparisons can be made between all the great apes and humans.  It has long been known that, external appearances aside, humans and chimps are more closely related to one another than either is to a gorilla. This new study confirms that, but indicates that in a significant portion of the gorilla genome, gorillas are more similar to humans than to chimps.  This makes an often misunderstood point: that different genes can have different evolutionary histories, and that the family tree for a given gene often looks different from the family tree for a species.  The study authors offer consensus dates for the divergence of the chimp and gorilla lineages from humans at approximately 6 and 10 million years ago. 

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