Melbourne, Nov 18 : Kangaroos are genetically similar to humans, Australian researchers have said.
Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics (KanGO) have released the first detailed map of the kangaroo genome.
Genomes are the full set of genes and DNA in a species.
According to KanGO director Professor Jenny Graves, the historic research could help scientists understand how the genes worked and how humans evolved.
"Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago,'' News.com.au quoted Professor Graves, as saying.
"We go back in time and compare ourselves with a mouse and a kangaroo and a platypus and a chicken and that tells us how our genomes evolved.
"It's kind of like looking at the stars and trying to imagine the big bang," the expert added.
Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago, the researchers found, while mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago.
"What we've done is build a very detailed map of the genome ... it's like a street map with 20,000 houses on one street,'' Professor Graves said.
There are 20,000 genomes in the kangaroo - all of which are pretty much the same genes as in humans.
"There are a few differences, we have a few more of this, a few less of that, but they are the same genes and a lot of them are in the same order. Which really surprised us, we thought they'd be completely scrambled, but they're not, there's great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome," the expert said.
By finding where genes are in kangaroos, researchers can now predict where similar genes might be in humans.
Kangaroos first evolved in China, but migrated across the Americas to Australia and Antarctica, they said.