Marine mammals lost gene that protects against pesticide

As marine mammals evolved to make water their primary habitat, they lost the ability to make a protein that defends humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of a popular man-made pesticide, a recent study found. ©mountainamoeba

As marine mammals evolved, they lost the ability to make a protein that defends land-dwelling mammals from the effects of a common pesticide — one that is increasingly finding its way into the sea. Affected mammals include manatees, seals, sea lions, whales and dolphins, according to a recent study in Science. “The enzyme provides an essential defense against certain kinds of harmful pesticides,” the New York Times reports. “The new study raises the possibility that marine mammals may be particularly vulnerable to these chemicals, which are carried from farm fields into coastal waters.”

Read the story in the New York Times or the paper in Science.