Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Northwestern biologists demote Southeast Asia's 'forest ox'

19.09.2006
It was one of the most famous discoveries of the 20th century. Shrouded in mystery since its recognition as a new species in 1937, the kouprey -- an ox with dramatic, curving horns -- has been an icon of Southeast Asian conservation. Feared extinct, it's been the object of perilous expeditions to the region's jungles by adventurers, scientists and journalists.

Now, in a paper published by the Journal of Zoology (London), Northwestern University biologists and a Cambodian conservationist present compelling genetic evidence that the kouprey may never have existed as a wild, natural species.

The researchers compared a published DNA sequence from the kouprey with sequences obtained from a true Cambodian wild ox, the banteng. The researchers had predicted, based on a study of kouprey anatomy, that the kouprey was a hybrid form and would show mitochondrial DNA similar to that of the banteng. The prediction was confirmed by their analysis.

The kouprey, which is now the national animal of Cambodia, may have originated as a domestic hybrid, between banteng and zebu cattle, that later became wild. ("Kouprey" means "forest ox" in the Khmer language.)

"The kouprey has acquired a rather romantic, exotic reputation," said Gary J. Galbreath, senior author of the paper and associate director of Northwestern's Program in Biological Sciences. "Some people would understandably be sad to see it dethroned as a species."

But, added Galbreath, "It is surely desirable not to waste time and money trying to locate or conserve a domestic breed gone wild. The limited funds available for conservation should be used to protect wild species." Galbreath has been traveling to Southeast Asia studying its animals since 1999.

Ironically, Galbreath initially began his work in Southeast Asia in hopes of identifying a new species of bear. It turned out to be an undescribed golden color phase of the moon bear. He also was involved in the debunking of another alleged new species of hoofed animal, the "khting vor," that was only known to science from specimens of its horns. Galbreath and others showed that these horns were the work of human artisans -- the "khting vor" was a fake.

Instead of finding new species, Galbreath said, "I've been involved in showing that two named species of large mammal may never have existed as such." But, he notes, "In the end, good science is about what is true, not what is desired to be true."

Galbreath hopes the paper will serve to focus conservation time, dollars and attention on real species that need saving. "The definitely real wild oxen of mainland Southeast Asia -- Banteng, Gaur, wild Water Buffalo -- could soon become extinct if more is not done to protect them from rampant poaching," Galbreath said. "I hope that the publicity from the kouprey story can help make people aware of this problem."

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>