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Evolutionary genetic relationships coming into focus

With the evolutionary tree of life nearly half done for birds and mammals, other vertebrates lag behind

5:11pm, March 9, 2010

Scientists are closer to unraveling the genetic pedigree of all backboned creatures, but the fish branches of the vertebrate family tree lack detail compared with those of flesh and fowl, a new analysis suggests.

The complete bird and mammal branches of the tree of life are within reach, scientists report online March 8 in BMC Biology. But the genetic genealogies of other backboned creatures, especially marine species, are woefully understudied.

Understanding phylogenetics — the branching patterns of evolution — can inform numerous aspects of sci

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