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Kangaroos from America?

on July 31, 2010
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ScienceNOW: “Jumping Genes Shed Light on Marsupial MigrationThe kangaroo may be an Australian icon, but according to some scientists, kangaroos and other marsupials have American roots.

An evolutionary interpretation of genetic studies indicates that marsupials evolved in South America.

The scientists, led by the University of Münster’s Maria Nilsson, studied the genomes of marsupials to investigate the creatures’ evolutionary history. Marsupials, the classification of mammals distinguished by the use of a pouch for housing young, encompass such well-known animals as kangaroo, opossums, and Tasmanian devils.

The problem for evolutionists is that what marsupial genomes suggest about marsupial history does not match what the fossil record (according to an old-age interpretation) does. An evolutionary interpretation of genetic studies indicates that marsupials evolved in South America, after which one marsupial lineage migrated to Australia. After that, the two marsupial groups evolved in isolation. But an evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record suggests that some marsupials that evolved in Australia may have migrated back to South America.

Nilsson’s team looked for genetic fragments called retroposons, assuming that two creatures with retroposons in the same location must have a common ancestor. Looking at the retroposons of more than twenty marsupial species, the scientists found they all have the same ten retroposons, though the opossum lacks two “nearly universal” retroposons.

Because marsupials share commonalities in design, however, common retroposons need not indicate that all marsupials living today share a single ancestor. On board the Ark would have been representatives from each marsupial kind, and from these common ancestors (plural) today’s marsupials have descended. Today’s marsupials share some common ancestry—and some common design.


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