The blue, fin, bowhead, gray, humpback, right and sperm whales are the largest animals alive today. A new study explored the genetic underpinnings of gigantism in whales, identifying four genes that appear to have played crucial roles in fostering great size but also mitigating related disadvantageous consequences including higher cancer risk and lower reproductive output. The study focused on seven whale species exceeding 33 feet (10 meters) long. The four genes identified are GHSR, IGFBP7, NCAPG and PLAG1, which are associated with increased body size, weight gain, cell proliferation, cell life cycles, cell death and cancer suppression. The evolution of cetaceans is a fantastic story, as these huge and charismatic animals can teach us a lot about the evolutionary process itself.
Today: November 30, 2023