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Extinct Tasmanian tiger showed little genetic diversity, gene study shows

thylacine/University of Adelaide

From “Scientists Confirm Limited Genetic Diversity in the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger” (ScienceDaily, Apr. 18, 2012), we learn,

A team of international scientists including from the University of Melbourne have discovered the unique Tasmanian Tiger or thylacine had limited genetic diversity prior to its extinction.

The results revealed the thylacine specimens were more than 99.5 per cent similar over a portion of DNA that is normally highly variable between individual animals.

“If we compare this same section of DNA, the Tasmanian Tiger only averages one DNA difference between individuals, whereas the dog, for example has about 5-6 differences between individuals,” Dr Menzies said.

He said in a direct comparison with other species, the thylacine averages about 5-10 DNA base differences over the coding sections of the mitochondrial genome.

“This is quite low when compared to other species including the wolf (77) or African humans (85).

The tiger was hunted to extinction at the turn of the twentieth century, and the mitochondrial DNA was recovered from museum specimens.

Limited genetic diversity may predispose a life form to extinction because all members of the population may be similarly at risk from a given cause.

Ironically, some research suggests that the marsupial tiger was not even as much of a threat to sheep as farmers feared.

See also: Can biotechnology bring back extinct animals?

Collin, Unfortunately I have worked in food processing- if you want scary, well let's put it this way, there are foods I will never eat again. Joe
Joe, That's a scary article. Especially about the pesticides making men sterile. I just bought a bunch of bananas today. Maybe I should wash them off. I once told my wife that bananas used to have seeds and she didn't believe me. Collin
Believe it or not, due to a lack of genetic diversity soon we may have no bananas... Joe
This marsupial wolf was in fact just the same creature as wolves elsewhere I say. Likewise other "marsupials" were exact copys of placental countertypes. Its been a great error of classification to see minor details of reproduction and a few other things as separating marsupials from placentals. In fact it was just a general adaptation due to the area they moved into after the flood. In fact marsupialism is simply a attempt to increase production of offspring. The marsupial wolf was a just a wolf and would grab sheep. The farmers are right and simply it was not common because the wolves were not that common. Genetic studies should not have much faith placed in them to tell us of the past. Convergent evolution is a myth alongside other evolutionary ideas. Same shaped creatures are the same cxreatures after all. minor adaptation abilities can account for difference. by the way the marsupial wolf (Tasmanian tiger) did howl in the night. Wolves do that. Robert Byers

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