New Asian Rodent Found as Food Is "Living Fossil," Gene Study Confirms

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2

Together, the two data sets finally pin down where the species falls on the rodent family tree, the authors of the new study say.

Working independently on separate genetic tests, three research teams in France, Israel, and the United States compared rock rat genes with the counterpart genes in other rodents.

The scientists looked to see if the rock rat shared genetic mutations with other rodent species, which would suggest a close evolutionary relationship.

"Jumping Genes"

Also for the new study, German researchers examined other pieces of DNA known as transposons, or "jumping genes."

The genes—which copy themselves, float to other spots in the genome, and randomly insert themselves—told the same story about the rock rat's ancient lineage.

"Their result looks pretty solid," said Ronald DeBry, a molecular biologist at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio who was not involved in the research.

He added that by studying the rodent's jumping genes, the study authors "provide a really important and very convincing independent confirmation" of how the various rodent species are related.

Researchers behind the new study argue that, given the rock rat's unusual lineage, it is important to protect the species.

Free Email News Updates
Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.