Cetaceans, such as dolphins and whales, have been on an interesting evolutionary journey. Their ancient ancestors evolved to leave the sea and become land dwelling, and then evolved to return to the sea. During this journey cetaceans underwent some interesting genetic changes.
A team of scientists from Max Planck Institutes, the University of California, Riverside and the American Museum of Natural History have been investigating the genomes of cetaceans. During their research they discovered 85 ‘lost genes’ that had been switched off over millennia during cetacean’s transition from land back to sea. Of these genes, 62 were newly discovered.
One of the lost genes plays a role in saliva secretion, two are involved in wound healing, and another in lung function. Changes to the environment cetaceans were living in meant these genes were no longer needed. The discovery of these lost genes helps paint a fuller picture of the genetic changes in cetaceans as they adapted to live in fully aquatic environments.
Source: Medical News Today
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