Sunday, September 17, 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.
Based on "Genetically solving a zoological mystery: was the kouprey (Bos sauveli) a feral hybrid?" (Abstract)
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