Tiger Genome Sequencing Reveals Evolutionary Secrets

The genome of the Siberian tiger has been fully mapped by scientists after years of hard work.  Scientists hope that the genome will provide clues about how the Siberian tiger differs from other big cats, specifically the Bengal tiger, lion, and snow leopard.  The big cats all have in common the genes required to digest protein and form robust muscle fibers, evolutionary traits that elevated them to top-carnivore status. Interestingly, species as far removed genetically from the big cats as domestic house cats also share these genes.  In other words, scientists have identified several genes that make cats cats.  The traits associated with these genes are central to cat-ness.

Scientists also hope that the sequence will help in preserving genetic diversity in wild populations.  Today, there are as few as 450 Siberian tigers left in the wild.

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Siberian Tiger in the Wild

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