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From Beetle Chemists to Venomous Vipers

Some of them slither. Some of them look cuddly. But which creature has the most interesting genome?

Pacific Biosciences is hosting a competition that's down to five finalists. Whichever organism is suspected to have the most interesting genome will get said genome sequenced for free. The current contenders include the desert dingo, bombardier beetles, the pink pigeon, sea slugs, and the Temple Pitviper.

A pair of researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney argues that the desert dingo should be the pick because it can give insight into domestication processes, as it falls between dogs and wolves on the domestication scale. Meanwhile, researchers in California and Arizona say that the bombardier beetle, with its impressive range of chemicals used for communication and defense, should be sequenced. Alternatively, researchers in Singapore and the US say the Temple Pitviper with its potent venom and sexual dimorphism should have its genome examined.

Voting is open through April 5, and past winners include the metal-eating plant Sedum alfredii and the Samoan rainforest tree.