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Dolphin DNA Close to Human

Seema Kumar, of Discovery Channel Online, writes that scientists have discovered that the genetic make-up of dolphins is amazingly similar to humans. They're closer to us than cows, horses or pigs, despite the fact that they live in the water.

"The extent of the genetic similarity came as a real surprise to us," says David Busbee of Texas A&M University. He hopes his research will reveal how long ago humans and dolphins branched off the evolutionary tree. There's been some speculation that dolphins and whales, who breathe air, may have returned to the water after evolving into land animals.

"Dolphins are marine mammals that swim in the ocean and it was astonishing to learn that we had more in common with the dolphin than with land mammals," says geneticist Horst Hameister.

Busbee says, "If we can show that humans are similar to dolphins, and anything that endangers dolphins is an equal concern for humans, it may be easier to persuade governments to become serious about combating industrial pollution and keeping oceans clean."

Did dolphins find living on the land too harsh? There are still many mysteries about the beings who share the earth with us.

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