Show Details

Lookalike Species

June 3, 2009

Some animals that look exactly alike may be genetically separate species.


Lookalike species. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Some animals that look exactly alike may actually belong to different species. This according to zoologist Christer Erséus of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. He and his colleagues have genetically analyzed various worms, comparing identical-looking specimens from different parts of the world.

CHRISTER ERSÉUS (University of Gothenburg, Sweden):
And particularly when worms are common, when they are said to be found everywhere, the general pattern is that there are more than one under a single name.

For example, they found that one species of freshwater worm was actually two species – twice as different genetically from each other as humans are from chimps. Because these same worms are often used in scientific research, Erseus says lumping them into one species may compromise the results. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.