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We’ve had a blitz of platypus genome papers this week, with a brand new article on the platypus genome sequence in Nature and several papers on specific aspects of this genome showing up in Genome Research. I hope to cover a couple of these in the next week. It’s been a while since my last update because I’ve been very busy, but I’ll take a look at the platypus genome paper itself tomorrow and hopefully follow-up Sunday or Monday with some of the information from Genome Research.

Of course this discovery has led to more bad reporting, and from reading the news outlet articles it looks like the scientists involved are contributing to some of it! Some of the things they are saying are not wrong, but possibly misleading. I’ll go into that a little bit tomorrow. For now let’s say I keep seeing the word “primitive”, and the New York Times refers to monotremes as “offshoots of the main mammalian lineage”. Well, I personally think the placentals and marsupials are branches off that most noble main mammalian lineage, the sadly extinct multituberculates.

Yes, the busy-ness has captured me. I am working on an entry right now about Triassic reptile trackways in Germany, but it’s going to take some time and I don’t want to screw it up by rushing. So I will try to get that to you tomorrow, and in the meantime you can stop by Catalogue of Organisms to read about aquatic sloths (!!), Tetrapod Zoology to read about crested porcupines, and test your knowledge of evolutionary relationships at Bayblab (discovered by way of Sandwalk).

I think the Bayblab quiz is a good example of some of the tendencies that we have that I mentioned in my entry on understanding evolutionary trees. Appearances can be deceptive–if we get tricked into thinking of evolution as a linear process rather than branching, we might classify some apparently simple creatures as distantly related that are actually just on the next branch over.

WHILE CNIDARIA are considered to have radial symmetry, a new article proposes that the cnidaria had a bilaterian ancestor and may properly be placed in Bilateria.1


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