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Hippo ancestry disputed
Date:3/18/2009

ists study family trees, they traditionally rely on morphology, in other words, the shape of bones. More recently, the DNA revolution means that scientists can use DNA data as another tool to reconstruct family trees, but DNA data can't be used all the time because DNA is not available for most fossils.

"In order to get the best understanding, researchers combine the two sources of data in a single analysis. But what Thewissen and his group did, was leave one of the major ones out," says Theodor.

Before the widespread use of DNA data, hippos had been thought to be closely related to pigs, but DNA data show that whales are closely related to hippos. Geisler and Theodor argue that leaving out the DNA data not only ignores important information, it implies that the evolution of swimming evolved independently in hippos and whales, when it may have evolved only once in a common ancestor.


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Contact: Leanne Yohemas
leanne.yohemas@ucalgary.ca
403-220-5144
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

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