Genetically, Dolphins Are Like ... Bats?
They have nearly 200 genomic regions in common
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Sep 5, 2013 1:04 PM CDT
A Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is seen reflecting against the unsually smooth water surface of the Hecate Straits, South of Ketchikan, Alaska, Aug. 2, 2007.   (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman)

(Newser) – One is an adorable marine mammal. The other is a creepy flying rodent that inspires masked vigilantes. But it turns out that, deep down, dolphins and bats have a surprising amount in common. A new study has found that dolphin and bat genes are strikingly similar in nearly 200 genomic regions, LiveScience reports. Researchers thought to compare the two because both rely on echolocation.

It's not that dolphins and bats are evolutionary cousins or anything. Scientists think it's an example of "convergent evolution," the phenomenon of different species in similar circumstances developing similar traits—and similar genes. "We didn't expect to see more than perhaps 10 to 30 genes converge," one researcher says. "Instead, we were able to detect many times that number." And while many relate to hearing, vision, and other areas associated with echolocation, most have unclear or unknown functions, Science reports.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
Sep 6, 2013 7:18 PM CDT
There's a mass slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Bottlenose dolphins are targeted, and their highly-toxic meat is considered a delicacy. They lure the dolphins into a cove with no escape, spear the dolphins or slash their throats. The japanese government has the ability to condemn this, and punish those who participate in the slaughter, but have done nothing about it: 23,823 signatures so far...
Sep 6, 2013 4:06 PM CDT
Bats have blow holes and dolphins have furry eyebrows too, they just discovered it but the article got published before they could add that in.
Sep 6, 2013 9:48 AM CDT
Bats are not rodents.