http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/1849571.htm?enviro

“Platypus genome holds key to its testes”

Platypus (Image via Healesville Sanctuary)

Scientists have sequenced the platypus genome – and this has revealed the genes that govern how their testes hang (those of the platypus, but it is hoped that the sequence will lead to pinpointing important genes involved in sexual development in all mammals, including scientists).

There is a lot more to this article than testicles and their descent:

“…the platypus is exciting because it represents the earliest known branch in the mammalian lineage; the last common ancestor between humans and the platypus was around 230 million years ago.

By comparing the genomes of humans and other mammals with the platypus, scientists can work out which genes have been conserved best through evolution. The longer a gene has lasted through time the more likely it is to have an important biological function.

So the platypus genome will help scientists to focus on important parts of otherwise unwieldy mammalian genomes.”

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