Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA traces the evolution of extinct sabretooths and the American cheetah-like cat

10.08.2005


By analysing ancient DNA, an international team of researchers has obtained data that increases our knowledge about how the large predatory cats that once roamed the prehistoric New World were related to each other.



The research, published today (9 August) in Current Biology, was carried out by Ross Barnett from the University of Oxford and a team of researchers from Britain, the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Australia.

North and South America were once home to a variety of large cats such as the sabretooths and other now-extinct species. Of these big cats, only the puma and jaguar survive in the Americas today.


Using computer models the researchers created an updated family tree for the ancient cats by comparing 13,000 year old DNA extracted from the preserved bones of two sabretooths (a Smilodon specimen from Patagonia and a Homotherium specimen from the Yukon region) and the American cheetah-like cat (a Miracinonyx specimen from Wyoming) with DNA from modern cat-family and other carnivore species.

The evolutionary tree drawn from the new data shows that the American cheetah-like cat is genetically most closely related to the puma, rather than to the true African cheetah .The American cheetah-like cat and the true cheetah show remarkable similarity in their development, including elongated limbs and enlarged nostrils. But the genetic data indicates that this similarity is in fact an example of parallel evolution; the development of similar bodies in response to similar ecological pressures.

Ross Barnett said, “Our DNA data proves that Miracinonyx, the cheetah-like cat, is most closely related to the modern day puma. As the cat was so well adapted to fast running its evolution probably depended on having to catch fleet-footed prey that roamed the prairies of North America.”

The analysis also clearly shows that the sabretooth cats were a sister group to the modern cats — that is, they diverged early on from the ancestors of modern cats and are not closely related to any living cat species.

The evolutionary history of the extinct American cats has been closely studied by palaeontologists, but it has been difficult to determine the exact relationship of several groups. This new DNA data is an important breakthrough.

Marion O’Sullivan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nerc.ac.uk
http://www.current-biology.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials

17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction

17.01.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>