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Duckbill decoded

The platypus’ genome holds secrets to molecular evolution

To understand how humans and other mammals evolved to be so different from reptiles, scientists needed to study the genes of an intermediate species, and the platypus filled the bill.

Though it’s a true mammal with fur, milk and sweat, the waddling duck-billed platypus also retains reptilian features, like venom production and egg-laying. The catalog of its genes, or genome, published in the May 8 issue of Nature reflects those traits. It is the first venomous vertebrate genome cataloged.

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