An international team of scientists today published the first analysis of the genome sequence of Glennie, a female duck-billed platypus from Australia. Because the platypus occupies a unique branch on the tree of life, Glennie's genome could provide important clues about how humans and other mammalian species evolved.
Like all mammals, the platypus nourishes its young with milk. But platypus babies hatch from eggs, a characteristic usually associated with birds and reptiles.
By comparing the platypus genome with the genomes of other animals—including the human, mouse, dog, chicken and green anole lizard—the scientists hope to pinpoint which genes are common to all mammals, and when various traits have appeared or disappeared in the mammalian lineage.