Sonar links bats and whales

In a striking example of evolutionary convergence, bats and whales appear to have at least two things in common: their ability to use biosonar to navigate and explore their environments and the molecular sequence of a protein that helps them do so, according to two new papers published online today (January 25) in Current Biology. An echolocating bat (Myotis bechsteinii)avoiding collision with a plantImage: Wikimedia commons, PLoS Computational Biology"It's a nice example" of convergence at the

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jan 24, 2010
In a striking example of evolutionary convergence, bats and whales appear to have at least two things in common: their ability to use biosonar to navigate and explore their environments and the molecular sequence of a protein that helps them do so, according to two new papers published online today (January 25) in Current Biology.
An echolocating bat (Myotis bechsteinii)
avoiding collision with a plant

Image: Wikimedia commons,
PLoS Computational Biology
"It's a nice example" of convergence at the molecular level, said evolutionary biologist linkurl:David Pollock;http://www.evolutionarygenomics.com/Pollock.html of University of Colorado School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research, "and you've got this unusual convergence of function that they're both using sonar. That's a sort of ready explanation [for the strong sequence similarity], if you will." The protein in question, Prestin, is thought to play a role in allowing mammals to detect minute differences in timing...
PrestinNature



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