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Jungle Genes: First bird genome is decoded

An international research team this week unveiled a draft of the first bird genome to be sequenced. It comes from a vintage chicken.

The red junglefowl, native to Southeast Asia, belongs to the same species as the world's domesticated chicken flocks, explains Richard Wilson of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The junglefowl, however, represents the ancestral lineage.

Most of the sequence of the billion or so nucleotides in the junglefowl's 39 chromosomes is now available to researchers in a free database, Wilson says. Still in the works is a paper describing that genome, which has about a third of the DNA of the human genome.

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