The platypus joins the ranks of linkurl:fruit flies,; linkurl:rice,; linkurl:humans,; and other subjects of intense genetic study with the linkurl:publication; of its genome sequence today (May 7) in __Nature__. Researchers say that exploring the genome of the platypus, which sits at a unique evolutionary intersection between reptiles and mammals, may yield novel insights into the process of evolution and the physiological repercussions of gaining or losing genes. "The platypus genome is a wonderful mixture of reptilian and mammalian features," said linkurl:Wesley Warren,; a Washington University geneticist who was the first author on the paper. "It's just amazing that it has survived and retained all these features." Among the surprises that Warren and his collaborators turned up among the estimated 2.3 billion nitrogenous base pairs that make up the platypus genome were that platypus venom, which males harbor in hind-leg spurs, is made up of proteins that result from duplications of...

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