Scientists Discovered Low Genetic Diversity Among Modern Rhinoceroses
August 25, 2021
- The relationships among rhinoceros species and the time they diverged have been a question by evolutionary biologists.
- Rhinoceroses were once a diverse group of animals.
- There are only five species in the family of modern rhinoceros which are highly endangered and priorities for conservation.
- Biologists had difficulty reconstructing the evolutionary history of rhinoceros.
- Researchers sequenced genomes from five rhinoceros species, three of which are from an extinct and two from a living.
- Researchers compared genomes to existing data from the remaining three living species and some outgroups.
- They identified an early separation between existing African and Eurasian lineages.
- The discovery resolved a key debate about the phylogeny of the existing rhinoceros.
- This early Miocene split post-dates the land bridge formation between Eurasia and the Afro-Arabian land.
- Analyses showed that rhinoceros genomes have low levels of diversity.
- Researchers also discovered that inbreeding is highest in modern rhinoceros.
- Low genetic diversity is a long-term feature of modern rhinoceros.
- Recently, the low genetic diversity of modern rhinoceros has been made worse probably due to population decline by human-driven activity.