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Genes Seem to Link Unlikely Relatives

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5:03pm, January 4, 2001

Similarities in DNA, the genetic material that's passed along from an animal to its offspring, can be a strong indicator of kinship. After all, even if you didn't get your father's nose, you got a hefty dose of his DNA.

Using that line of reasoning, an international team of scientists contends that markers in the genes of three proteins suggest a single African ancestor for animals as diverse as elephants and aardvarks. The researchers, led by scientists at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, present their findings in the Jan. 2 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Almost a third of the major groupings, or orders, of mammals actually can be lumped in

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