How bats and dolphins are genetically similar
Bats and dolphins may live in radically different worlds, but the fact they both evolved a type of sonar means they resemble each other genetically, researchers now find.
When different species live similar lives, they can evolve similar traits, a phenomenon known as convergent evolution. For instance, dolphins, sharks and the extinct marine giants known as ichthyosaurs all differ from each other greatly in origin — dolphins are mammals, sharks are fish and ichthyosaurs were reptiles. However, they evolved very similar body shapes that help them live fast lives in the water — streamlined forms, stabilizing dorsal fins and crescent-shaped tails for traveling great speeds over long distances.
Recently, scientists found hints that convergent evolution caused species to resemble each other not just at the physical level, but also the genetic one. To find out how great this effect was, researchers analyzed genes in animals that independently developed echolocation, the ability to scan the world using sound.
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