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March 8 2012

Gorillas More Related to People Than Thought, Genome Says

Staring face to face with a gorilla, it's hard not to find them eerily similar to humans—and now the first published gorilla genome supports that, according to a new study.

In 2008 geneticists took DNA from Kamilah, a then 30-year-old female western lowland gorilla from the San Diego Zoo.

Four years later the team published the species' genome, which completes a basic genetic library of the great apes—a branch of primates including people, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.

"Previously, people had some sort of picture based on ... probably one percent of the whole [gorilla] genome. So we now have a complete picture," said study co-author Richard Durbin, a geneticist with the U.K.'s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

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