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Researchers have reconstructed a long string of genetic code for what they believe is the common ancestor of placental mammals — a shrewlike creature that lived in Asia more than 75 million years ago.
The leader of the research team, David Haussler of the University of California at Santa Cruz, admits that the concept may sound like the plot line for a "Jurassic Park" sequel. But he says the real point of the research is to learn how the evolutionary paths of different species diverged over time — and make it easier to decipher present-day genetic code.
"It's driven by curiosity about our own origins," Haussler told MSNBC.com Tuesday. "If we really want to understand in detail, at the molecular level, how evolution works, we have to reconstruct the evolutionary history of every base in the genome. It's only then that we'll see the key events."