Science

Tasmanian tiger doomed long before humans came along

Tasmanian tiger doomed long before humans came along”

On Monday, a team of Australian researchers informed they studied the body of the marsupial predator and concluded that the species was genetically predisposed to disappear. The species' complete genome, reported on 11 December in Nature Ecology and Evolution, offers clues to its decline and its uncanny resemblance to members of the distantly related dog family.

Rising seas cut Tasmania off from the mainland around 14,000 years ago, meaning the local thylacine population was always low in genetic diversity.

Of course, scientists said the genetic of the species is just one of the reasons.

Though humans were undoubtedly responsible for its demise in the first place. European colonists in the nineteenth century saw the predators as a threat to their sheep, and paid a bounty of £1 per carcass.

Reports have regularly emerged of people who say they have seen a Tasmanian tiger. About 750 thylacine specimens are held in museums, and most are pelts or bones with little viable DNA. In fact, some scientists believe this study can lead them to engineer a way to clone the species and bring the animal back to life.

"They were this freaky and singular species. There was nothing else like them in the world at the time", one of the researchers, Charles Feigin of the University of Melbourne, Australia, explains. "We would need to develop a marsupial model to host the thylacine genome, like work conducted to include mammoth genes in the modern elephant".

At that time, the DNA sequences they had were highly degraded, making sequencing an entire genome nearly impossible.

Tasmanian tiger

To read the genetic history of the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), biologists extracted and analysed DNA from a pup that's been preserved for more than a century.

The genome will not only help scientists in discovering the past of the specie, but will also enable them to shape up a potential future. Thus, letting them know the animal's ancestors. Similar patterns have been seen in the genome of the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii). Feigin said that the animals turned more vulnerable in front humans when the temperature of the area started to decline.

In the latest study, a team led by developmental geneticist Andrew Pask of the University of Melbourne obtained the much longer nuclear genome, by sampling tissue from a one-month-old thylacine that had been found in its mother's pouch in 1909 and was preserved in alcohol.

"If two animals adapt to look nearly identical, do you see that also reflected in their genome - can you actually find parts of their DNA that evolve to look very similar?" he says.

Although the Tasmanian tiger evolved to look so similar to the dog-like dingo, scientists found that the genetics of the animal was more closely related to fellow Australian marsupial called the Tasmanian devil. "We can not bring it back", Shapiro says. The team saw a steep drop in genetic diversity suggesting that thylacine numbers began dwindling some 70,000-120,000 years ago, well before humans reached Australia.

Probably not today, or tomorrow.

Michael Archer, a palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, sees the genome-sequencing effort as important progress towards his long-time vision of bringing the marsupial back from extinction. Additionally, they concluded that this information would definitely help them to protect the Tasmanian devil and make it more healthy.



Like this

loading...
loading...

Latest


12 December 2017
SpaceX debuts recycled rocket, new launch pad
The company along with Orbital ATK took over resupply missions to the ISS for NASA after the end of the space shuttle program. According toSpaceX, the first stage of the rocket will return to Cape Canaveral for refurbishment and use on a future flight.

12 December 2017
DE asks for ACA enrollment extension as open enrollment deadline nears
Most states that run their own health insurance websites are providing an extended period for consumers to enroll. Information about what insurance plans are available through the Affordable Care Act is at HealthCare.gov.

12 December 2017
Hiring outlook positive across seven sectors in Singapore for Q1 2018
The results of the survey show that hiring intentions remain positive in all seven sectors for the January-March period. However, not all parts of the Australian economy have recorded such robust Outlooks or year-over-year gains.

12 December 2017
Brokerages Set Illinois Tool Works Inc. (ITW) Target Price at $163.00
Illinois Tool Works Inc had 69 analyst reports since July 24, 2015 according to SRatingsIntel. (NYSE:ITW) for 3,512 shares. It improved, as 55 investors sold UNP shares while 498 reduced holdings. 13 funds opened positions while 27 raised stakes.

12 December 2017
'First ripple of freedom' for jailed British woman as Iran postpones case
He began Saturday's talks by expressing his condolences for a powerful quake which killed more than 400 people in November. His unfortunate choice of words seemed to support the Iranian authorities' allegation that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was spying.

12 December 2017
Sam Dastyari quits the Senate
The Newspoll has the Labor and Liberal parties on a 50-50 two-party-preferred vote, and each on a 39% primary vote. It is understood that Shorten had been in intensive talks with factional allies to resolve the Dastyari crisis.

12 December 2017
Sulser named Gatorade Football Player of the Year
Off the field, Baeza has volunteered locally with the Special Olympics and as a youth football coach. He is also a finalist for the inaugural Polynesian High School Football Player of the Year Award.

12 December 2017
Brokerage Overview of: Union Pacific Corporation (UNP)
Perhaps most importantly where cash movements are concerned, the company saw about 1.94 billion in net operating cash flow. Conclusions from the analysis of the editorial shall not depict the position of any analysts or financial professionals.

12 December 2017
Brexit deal shows United Kingdom can leave European Union in 'smooth and orderly' way
Britain's commitment to maintaining a soft Irish border after Brexit is "much more than legally enforceable", David Davis has said.

12 December 2017
ME seeing increase in hepatitis cases, state says
There were eight cases of hepatitis A per year for the previous three years, 2014-16, according to the Maine CDC website. Symptoms are usually sudden and include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice, officials said.