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These Baboons Borrowed a Third of Their Genes From Their Cousins

50 years of monitoring suggested that baboon hybrids manage just fine, but new DNA evidence reveals that some of their borrowed genes came at a cost

DURHAM, N.C. -- New genetic analyses of wild baboons in southern Kenya reveals that most of them carry traces of hybridization in their DNA. As a result of interbreeding, about a third of their genetic makeup consists of genes from another, closely-related species. The researchers led by Prof. Jenny Tung from Duke University and now at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, measured genetic variation and gene activity to understand the possible costs and benefits of genetic mixing in primates, including humans.

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The researchers focused on a region around the Amboseli basin of southern Kenya, where two species of baboons have met and intermixed not just once, but multiple times since the species diverged 1.4 million years ago. © Arielle Fogel, Duke University.