An extinct and deeply divergent tiger lineage from northeastern China recognized through palaeogenomics
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article › Research › peer-review
Tigers (Panthera tigris) are flagship big cats and attract extensive public attention due to their charismatic features and endangered status. Despite this, little is known about their prehistoric lineages and detailed evolutionary histories. Through palaeogenomic analyses, we identified a Pleistocene tiger from northeastern China, dated to beyond the limits of radiocarbon dating (greater than 43 500 years ago). We used a simulated dataset and different reads processing pipelines to test the validity of our results and confirmed that, in both mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenies, this ancient individual belongs to a previously unknown lineage that diverged prior to modern tiger diversification. Based on the mitochondrial genome, the divergence time of this ancient lineage was estimated to be approximately 268 ka (95% CI: 187-353 ka), doubling the known age of tigers' maternal ancestor to around 125 ka (95% CI: 88-168 ka). Furthermore, by combining our findings with putative mechanisms underlying the discordant mito-nuclear phylogenetic placement for the South China tigers, we proposed a more complex scenario of tiger evolution that would otherwise be missed using data from modern tigers only. Our study provides the first glimpses of the genetic antiquity of tigers and demonstrates the utility of aDNA-based investigation for further understanding tiger evolution.
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 2022|
© 2022 The Author(s).
- evolution, palaeogenomics, Panthera tigris, Pleistocene, tiger