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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2005 Dec;15(6):652-9. Epub 2005 Oct 13.

Genomic inferences from Afrotheria and the evolution of elephants.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, Basic Research Program, SAIC-Frederick and National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


Recent genetic studies have established that African forest and savanna elephants are distinct species with dissociated cytonuclear genomic patterns, and have identified Asian elephants from Borneo and Sumatra as conservation priorities. Representative of Afrotheria, a superordinal clade encompassing six eutherian orders, the African savanna elephant was among the first mammals chosen for whole-genome sequencing to provide a comparative understanding of the human genome. Elephants have large and complex brains and display advanced levels of social structure, communication, learning and intelligence. The elephant genome sequence might prove useful for comparative genomic studies of these advanced traits, which have appeared independently in only three mammalian orders: primates, cetaceans and proboscideans.

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