Native rats from South America are among the most diverse mammals in the world, ranging from giant capybaras to tiny mountain cavies, mysterious tree rats, and gopher-like burrowers. Amazingly, these species are all closely related, but their evolutionary past is only now being uncovered. Integrating DNA sequence data from living species with fossils from their long-dead ancestors, my research reconstructs the timing and patterns of evolution among rats in the Octodontoidea, a group consisting of 293 species and 38 genera. Identifying species traits associated with fast evolutionary rates is a main goal of this research.
This article was originally posted in the Featured Scientist Section (September 2012) of the Facebook page for the DNA Discovery and Pritzker Lab at the Field Museum. Click here to view the full article.
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