Image: Courtesy of Elliott Marguiles
PIPS ON PARADE: Researchers used a MultiPipMaker to show the alignments, expressed as percent identity plots, between a human reference sequence and several other species. This is a 20 kb region surrounding exon 2 of the MET gene. Gap-free alignable segments are represented as horizontal lines along the human reference sequence; the line's height represents the identity of that alignment.

Aristotle envisioned humanity as the pinnacle of a "Great Chain of Being," a parade of organisms that evolved toward a state of undefined perfection. He might be surprised to learn that to understand how humans came to be, science needs to consult the lesser beasts, particularly their DNA, for genomes carry the ultimate fossils, the living records of shared ancestries, written in a simple four-letter alphabet.

"Comparative genome analyses will be immensely important in identifying the protein-encoding elements in the human genome, and in providing...

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