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Scientists determine what makes an orangutan an orangutan
Date:1/27/2011

mammals, including humans.

Comparisons of the population genetics of the Sumatran and Bornean species indicate that these species split approximately 400,000 years ago, which is more recent than previously believed. In addition, Sumatran orangutans have greater genetic diversity than their Bornean counterparts, despite their smaller population size and higher endangered status.

Adam Siepel, a research team member from Cornell University described the new map of the genetic code of orangutans as an important step in genome sequencing of primates. "The orangutan genome gives us a much more complete picture of genome evolution in the great apes," he said.

"This is a terrific example of the application of genome sequencing beyond model organisms--well-studied organism like the mouse and fruit fly," said Reed Beaman, an NSF program director. "Research like this has only recently become possible through a dramatic decrease in the cost of sequencing. These results demonstrate broad significance to biogeography, genetics, as well as to conservation and human evolution, and they are only starting to scratch the surface."


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Contact: Lily Whiteman
lwhitema@nsf.gov
703-292-8310
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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