Biologists have now completely sequenced the mitochondrial genome for the Hispaniolan solenodon, filling in the last major branch of placental mammals on the tree of life. The study conducted confirmed that the venomous mammal diverged from all other living mammals 78 million years ago, long before an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. ZooDom veterinarian Adrell Nunez (center) draws blood from a solenodon for DNA samples. Researchers caught the venomous mammal by allowing it to walk across their bodies at night in the forests of the Dominican Republic. Pictured from left to right: Nicolas De J. Corona, Adrell Nunez, Taras K. Oleksyk, and Yimell Corona.
The scientists in this article must be extremely dedicated to allow a venomous mammal to walk across their bodies at night! The information extracted from this mammal has allowed us to complete the mitochondrial genome sequence which can now be used to compare to other prehistoric animals. Also, if this mammal was around before the asteroid, how has its genome survived to repopulate? This study will help to answer a lot of questions that has previously formed holes in our prehistoric knowledge.