08 May 2008

Platypus unveiled

Sounds like scientists have been splicing up the platypus' genes.

And comparing them to other living beings; humans, mice, dogs, chickens, etc.

So guess what? They might have answered the age old question: Just what the heck is a platypus.

Well, something like that.

According to an article in LiveScience, in the greater 'gene' of things, these mysterious creatures are somewhere between reptiles and mammals.

"The platypus is a very ancient offshoot of the mammal tree, so it was 166 million years ago that we last shared a common ancestor with platypuses," said study team member Jenny Graves, head of the Comparative Genomics Group at the Australian National University. "And that puts them somewhere between mammals and reptiles, because they still maintain quite a lot of reptilian characteristics that we’ve lost, for instance they still lay eggs."

And guess what? They have X and Y chromosomes just like us, but with some major differences:

Like humans, platypuses carry an X and a Y chromosome. But unlike humans, the X and Y are not sex chromosomes. "That means we can go right back to the time when our sex chromosomes were just ordinary chromosomes minding their own business and ask well what happened, what made them into sex chromosomes," Graves said.

Changes over the years to your genetic structure, possibly adapting to the environment ....

Wait, did someone say evolution?