Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: What is the similarity between a bat and a dolphin? Most people’s immediate answer would be “not a lot.” But James Fenner writes at the Guardian that a group of researchers have recently sought to investigate the genetic profiles of these two unrelated species to study whether their ability to use echolocation signifies they have rudimentary genetic ties, molded by their environment. Researchers looked at the genomic sequences of 22 mammals, consisting of different species of bats (including the greater false vampire bat, Parnell’s mustached bat, the large flying fox and the straw-colored fruit bat) and the bottlenose dolphin and used specialized computer programs to analyze the probability that particular convergent adaptations were purely introduced by coincidence. Their findings show that bottlenose dolphins and bats seemed to show considerable genetic convergence, including within genes that had been implicated in hearing and vision. The group was only expecting to identify around a dozen identical changes to some of the genes, but, in actual fact, they stumbled across 200 genes with these identical convergent alterations. "These results could be the tip of the iceberg," says group leader, Dr. Stephen Rossiter. "As the genomes of more species are sequenced and studied, we may well see other striking cases of convergent adaptations being driven by identical genetic changes."
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