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Kangaroos 'are closely related to humans'



Last updated at 12:25 PM on 18th November 2008



Humans and kangaroos are close cousins on the evolutionary tree sharing a common ancestor 150 million years ago, according to Australian researchers.

Scientists have mapped the genetic code of the Australian marsupials for the first time and found large chunks of DNA are the same.


article-1086928-004348BD00000258-791_468x540.jpg Meet your cousin kangaroo: Humans like Rolf Harris and the Australian marsupial are not so different, sharing a common ancestor

'There are a few differences, we have a few more of this, a few less of that, but they are the same genes and a lot of them are in the same order,' said Jenny Graves, director of the Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics.

'We thought they'd be completely scrambled, but they're not. There is great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome,' she added.







Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor 150million years ago, the researchers found, while mice and humans diverged from one another 70 million years ago.

They believe kangaroos first evolved in China, but migrated across the Americas to Australia and Antarctica.

'Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago,' Graves said.

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