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Wed, Mar 02

A fast paced genome

A cheetah known as Chewbaaka has helped scientists time-travel through that species’ long, complex history, even providing some clues about how the big cats became the world’s fastest land animals.

Chewbaaka, rescued as a 10-day-old orphan in Namibia, became an “ambassador” animal for the Cheetah Conservation Fund there. (His name is a variation of the “Star Wars” character’s.) He died five years ago at the advanced age of 16 — twice the life span of the average cheetah in the wild — but not before geneticists drew his blood. Along with blood samples from six other cheetahs from Namibia and East Africa, his has now been used to sequence the species’ complete genome — its full set of chromosomes.

Read more from The New York Times.