River Dolphins Add Branches to Family Tree

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Science  30 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5513, pp. 2531-2532
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5513.2531a

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Scientists who study marine mammals have long puzzled over where on the family tree to place four species of river dolphins that were thought to be more closely related to each other than to their whale cousins. At a meeting here, researchers presented results based on a technique that uses repetitive bits of DNA, called short interspersed elements, that are inserted randomly throughout the genome. Their analysis suggests that the species diverged at different times and that one of them may have diverged before beaked whales, whereas most dolphins did not appear until much later.