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Curr Biol. 2010 Jan 26;20(2):R55-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.042.

The hearing gene Prestin unites echolocating bats and whales.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Echolocation is a sensory mechanism for locating, ranging and identifying objects which involves the emission of calls into the environment and listening to the echoes returning from objects [1]. Only microbats and toothed whales have acquired sophisticated echolocation, indispensable for their orientation and foraging [1]. Although the bat and whale biosonars originated independently and differ substantially in many aspects [2], we here report the surprising finding that the bottlenose dolphin, a toothed whale, is clustered with microbats in the gene tree constructed using protein sequences encoded by the hearing gene Prestin.

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