One of the biggest Lemur Up until now, animals have lived as heavy as adult humans. Analysis of its genome revealed that the giants reached their giant size by eating the leaves.
Koala Lemur (Megaladapis EdwardIt can be up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weigh about 187 pounds (85 kilograms) and was one of at least 17 giant fox monkeys that once lived in Madagascar.But like in ancient times DNA It is usually poorly conserved in tropical and subtropical climates, and little genetic information remains about these giant and extinct lemurs to date.
But scientists recently made a DNA jackpot after analyzing hundreds of bones from extinct lemurs. They identified a koala lemur superfamily bone, 1,475 years old, but still carrying a viable genetic material. This allowed researchers to find a new location for the mysterious giant in the lemur family tree.
Living lemurs and extinct lemurs are all members of the primate family and monkeyWow Apes, Humans and our extinct relatives, etc. Neanderthals.. The common name for koalas is koalas (marsupials, not primates). This is because the bodies are similar. Long arms, short legs, big legs to grab tree trunks and branches, According to the Ducremer Center In Durham, North Carolina.
Scientists have previously said that Koala Dapis, which lives in huge trees, is a leaf eater because animals that specialize in leafy diets are larger than their relatives who eat more diverse diets. I was skeptical. Pennsylvania State University. Today, there are more than 100 species of lemurs in Madagascar, but the largest lemurs disappeared 500 to 2,000 years ago.
“It wasn’t the small species that existed at the same time, but the large body species that were largely extinct,” Marciniak told Live Science in an email. “The habitat to which giant lemurs have adapted has probably changed significantly, affecting their ability to survive.”
For a new study, researchers sampled DNA from the lemur superfamily jawbone of Koaladapis. The well-preserved state of the jawbone allowed scientists to perform nuclear genome analysis. It reconstructs the Koala Dapis genome from DNA in the cell nucleus and provides genetic data from parents. Mitochondria In comparison, DNA may be preserved even if the cell’s nucleus is not preserved, but such DNA contains only the genetic information from the mother.
“Because the nuclear genome has independent markers of thousands of ancestors compared to the mitochondrial genome, Megaladapis To other lemurs. “
Scientists then compared the DNA of Koaladapis with the DNA of modern lemurs, which contain two species that occupy different branches of the red-fronted lemur family tree.Lemur rufifrons) And Weasel sportive lemurLepilemur mustelinus). Previous analysis of the skull and teeth of koala lemuriformes suggested that koala lemuriformes are close relatives of weasel sportsive lemur. But the newly discovered genetic data tells another story, bringing the extinct giant closer to the red-fronted lemur.
“This is because of the similarities in skeletal and tooth characteristics. Megaladapis And Weasel sportive lemur It is likely to be part of a similar diet and ecosystem adaptation to habitat / pressure. “
Scientists also analyzed genetic data for clues about koala lemur habits and biology. They compared the DNA of Koaladapis with the DNA of 47 non-lemur animals and found a gene encoding a protein that resembles the nose of the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana), And on horseback (Equus caballus). Studies suggest that these genes help herbivorous horses and leaf-eating Shishibana monkeys absorb nutrients and break down toxins in leafy plants, suggesting that Koala Dapis is also a special leaf-eating person. Did.
Decoding the ancient genome of Koala Dapis may provide a new way to explore how other giant extinct fox monkeys have evolved in Madagascar’s habitat through diet and other ecological adaptations. Said Marcyniac.
The findings were published in the journal on June 24th. Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences..
Originally published in Live Science.