A report in Nature has announced that the first marsupial genome has been sequenced. Tarjei Mikkelsen of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass and team sequenced the 3,475 megabase genome of the South American grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica. The opossum genome appears to contain about 20,000 protein-coding genes, the authors found, and the vast majority of these are also found in placental mammals. Apparently most of the differences between marsupial and placental mammals comes from junk... ahem... non-coding sequences, not proteins. It provides more evidence the main difference between you and other animals is how your genes are regulated not the proteins you possess.
Oh and that isn't the only time I've seen 'possums in the news lately.
Apparently a homeless person seeking shelter from the rain in a trash bin was accidentally dumped into a garbage truck. Trapped in the garbage compactor, the man was able to avoid being crushed by grabbing a...
a) a steel pole
b) a brace
c) our marsupial cousin, Didelphis virginiana
If you picked, c, the Common Opossum, you get a medal.
Our friend Marko from Croatia writes "Are opossums that common?"
Yes, Marko, Common Opossums are in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' category of Least Concern.