Marine mammals have lost a gene they may now desperately need

A manatee calf nurses from its mother in Crystal River, Florida. A study has found that manatees and many other marine mammals have lost a gene that makes an enzyme which protects them from harmful chemicals.
A manatee calf nurses from its mother in Crystal River, Florida. A study has found that manatees and many other marine mammals have lost a gene that makes an enzyme which protects them from harmful chemicals.PHOTO: REUTERS

About 50 million years ago, dog-like mammals returned to the seas, eventually evolving into whales and dolphins.

Around then, too, an early cousin of elephants took the plunge, giving rise to manatees and dugongs.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'Marine mammals have lost a gene they may now desperately need'. Print Edition | Subscribe