But they said it’s too soon to blame pangolins for the pandemic and say a third species of animal may have played host to the virus before it spilled over to people.

What is clear is that the coronavirus has swapped genes repeatedly with similar strains infecting bats, pangolins and a possible third species, a team of researchers from Duke University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and elsewhere reported in the journal Science Advances.

What’s also clear is that people need to reduce contact with wild animals that can transmit new infections, the researchers concluded.