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SCIENCE A whale of a relative WASHINGTON - A whale's closest living relative could be the hippopotamus, according to new findings by Japanese researchers.

A team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology said they developed a new way to look at an animal's genetic history by tracking DNA sequences from millions of years ago, and they came up with surprising findings. Genetic evidence suggests that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are more closely related to cows, camels, and pigs than they are to horses, elephants, and sea cows.

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ENVIRONMENT The beetles hit New York WASHINGTON - Asian long-horned beetles that munched their way through hardwood trees in half a dozen US states have now spread to Manhattan and could threaten New Yorkers' leafy refuge of Central Park.

Last week, 13 trees at a playground on the upper East Side were chopped down, run through a wood chipper, and then burned to thwart the spread of the insect, blamed for killing nearly 800 trees in Chicago. It is the only known way to get rid of the beetle, which invaded the United States via wooden loading pallets from Asia. Ten Norway maples at the same playground, about a half-mile from Central Park, were also infested.

Scientists in jam over jellyfish PANEREA, ITALY - The Italian coastline has been inundated with throngs of jellyfish that have marine biologists searching for an explanation for the outbreak. From northwest Italy down to Sicily's island of Panerea, jellyfish are tormenting tourists and leaving researchers with questions.

Experts say the increase could be caused by a change in food supply, or the reduction of predators such as turtles and larger fish.

Last year, fishermen in southern France complained that hordes of monster jellyfish were tearing holes in their nets. The population has been multiplying for the last eight years.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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