Tasmanian Tigers Suffered From Low Genomic Diversity
by PhysOrg staff
The enigmatic Tasmanian tiger, known also as the thylacine, was hunted to extinction in the wild at the turn of the 20th century, and the last one died in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936.
Now scientists have sequenced a portion of the thylacine genome, showing that like its cousin, the Tasmanian devil, it had extremely low genetic variability. The results suggest that both animals’ genetic makeup was affected by their isolation from mainland Australia.
"We found that the thylacine had even less genetic diversity than the Tasmanian devil,” says the study’s senior author, Andrew Pask of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT in the U.S. “If they were still be around today, they’d be at a severe risk, just like the devil.”
Pask and Brandon Menzies from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, along with co-authors from Australia, published the article today in the journal PLoS ONE.
The thylacine is fascinating to scientists because although it was a marsupial, explains Pask, it looked so much like a dog that even to this day, most archaeologists can’t tell the two skeletons apart…
(read more: PhysOrg) (photos: Tasmanian National Museum & Art Gallery)
Provided by University of Connecticut (news : web)