Preliminary Data from the Unicorn Genome: First Possible Indication in History of Mammalian Evolution of Hybridization Across Orders.
by David Ng
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Full paper available here (pdf)
Journal of Fantastic Phylogenetics 2012 8(9): 42-49
Abstract: In this study we present the preliminary finding of what could be the first record in history of hybridization between mammalian Orders (Perissodactyla and Cetacea). Phylogenetic analyses from the unicorn (Equus unicornus) mitochondrial genes (protein-coding Cytochrome b, Cytb) show a matriline belonging to the Narwhal (Monodon monceros) while nuclear (V-kit Hardy-Zuckerman 4 feline sarcoma viral oncogene homolog, Kit) clearly show a sister relationship of the unicorn-pegasus (Equus alatus) clade with the rest of the Perissodactyl family Equidae. Our preliminary study strongly suggests the need for further investigation because this finding could completely revolutionise our understanding of the processes of hybridization in mammals.
From the Introduction:
Hybridization is widely known from the plant kingdom (Rieseberg & Carney 1998) and horizontal gene transfer has been repeatedly reported in prokaryotes (Jain et al. 1999). However, these forms of genetic exchange have never been prevalent (or even recorded in the case of horizontal gene transfer) in the Mammalia and never been recorded at such an evolutionary distance between organisms (Equidae and Cetacea).
Here are presented the incongruent results from two phylogenies built with mitochondrial and nuclear genes of E. unicornus showing relatedness to two different orders of the Mammalia.
This awesome fake paper by Anna Bazzicalupo, via the Science Creative Quarterly