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Health Agencies Update
April 28, 2004

Playing Possum

JAMA. 2004;291(16):1951. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.1951-b

Next in line for genome sequencing is the gray short-tailed South American opossum (Monodelphis domestica). The sequencing endeavor will be supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute (http://www.nhgri.nih.gov).

Opossums and humans diverged from a common ancestor around 130 million years ago. Scientists say the opossum's genetic information will be useful for comparative studies of other mammals, such as mice (diverged from humans 75 million years ago), and nonmammals, such as birds (diverged 300-500 million years ago).

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