Giant Lemur that became extinct about 1,200 years ago

Giant Lemur: Researchers sequence the genome of an extinct giant lemur. An international team of scientists has successfully sequenced the nuclear genome of Megaladepis edwardsi, a species of megafaunal lemur that became extinct about 1,200 years ago. Restoration of the life of the koala lemur Megaladapis edwardsi. Megaladepis edwardsus is one of the largest extinct lemurs that ever inhabited the island of Madagascar. Informally known as the koala lemur, it was over 1.3 m (4.3 ft) long and had a body weight of 85 kg.

Giant Lemur

Megaladapis edwardsi was different from any living Giant Lemur species: the animal’s body was plump and built like a koala; Its long arms, fingers, legs, and toes were specialized for grasping trees. “Today there are more than 100 species of lemurs living in Madagascar, but in recent history, the diversity of these animals was even greater,” said Dr. George Perry, a researcher in the Department of Anthropology.

The Department of Biology and the Haq. Institute. in Life Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. From skeletal remains and radiocarbon dating, we know that at least 17 species of lemurs have become extinct and that these extinctions are relatively recent. Interestingly, all the extinct lemurs were larger than the surviving ones, and some to a greater extent.

koala lemur Megaladapis edwardsi

To sequence the nuclear genome of Megaladepis edwardsii, Dr. Perry and his colleagues extracted DNA from a 1,475-year-old subfossil jaw bone. An unusually well-preserved specimen was discovered at the Beloha Anavoha site in the extreme south of Madagascar.  “Previous studies based on skull and tooth comparisons suggested that Megaladepis edwardsi was closely related to the live weasel sport lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus),” said postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Stephanie Marcinac said.

However, our genetic analyzes have shown that the extinct lemur is most closely related to the live red-fronted lemur (Eulemur rubifrons). In addition to live lemurs, the researchers compared the genomes of Megaladapis edwardsi with the genomes of dozens of more distantly related species, including the leafy golden snub-nosed colobin monkey, which is leafy, and the horse, which is herbivorous.

Megaladepis edwardsi

“We found similarities between Megaladepis edwardsi and these two species in certain genes that encode protein products that function in the biodegradation of plant toxins and in the absorption of nutrients, which is consistent with dental evidence that Megaladepis edwardsi folivorus was” said Dr. Specifically, the scientists identified similarities between Megaladepis edwardsi and the golden snub-nosed monkey in genes with hydrolase activity functions.

Because between Megaladepis edwardsi and horse in genes with brush border functions. Hydrolases help break down secondary compounds in plants, while brush border microvilli play an important role in nutrient absorption and chemical breakdown in the gut, Dr. Marcinac said. The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How a House Lemur Genome Could Help Save You Your wide-ranging yellow eyes, large ears, constantly growing incisors, and long, skeletal fingers are not the most attractive of a lemur’s appearance. But like many lemurs, which are unique to the island nation of Madagascar, they are in danger of extinction. Using genetic sequencing and tracking necklaces, researchers are trying to better understand them in hopes of protecting them.

This photo shows an Aye-Aye woman. (Image credit: Ed Lewis). With its large yellow eyes, oversized ears, and long, skeletal fingers, the aye-aye isn’t the most attractive-looking lemur in MadagascarThis elusive nocturnal animal joins an inspiring group of rare animals, including the Tasmanian devil, the pygmy elephant and many others, whose entire genetic code, or genome, has been sequenced and analyzed by researchers for information that gives them access. the planet can help maintain it.


In a study published today (March 25) by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team sequenced and compared genomes of 12 ae-aces from three regions of Madagascar. They found aye-ayes from an area in the north of the island country, which was genetically distinct from the western and eastern regions. The researchers say the results are important for the conservation of the species.

Ed Lewis, a researcher on the study and director of conservation genetics at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, said that if something happens to this population in the north, we are losing an enormous amount of total species diversity, which would put this endangered animal. puts you at greater risk. Greater genetic diversity provides the population with the means to adapt to changes over time. For example, a lack of diversity can make a population more vulnerable to disease or changes in its environment.

Threat to biodiversity

Many plants and animals, including lemurs, are unique to Madagascar. However, over the years, much of the island country’s forests have been destroyed and the situation has worsened since the 2009 coup. Lemurs are also increasingly hunted for their meat. The A-Ace seem particularly vulnerable. Previous genomic work found evidence that ae-aces are at the low end of genetic diversity among primates.

Genome knowledge

While genetics has been used in conservation on a limited scale for nearly two decades, in recent years the process of decoding an organism’s genetic sequence has become faster and cheaper. This change potentially gives researchers access to a much greater amount of information. The resulting data can, for example, reveal genetically distinct populations that might otherwise appear as a group, or it can reveal the history of interactions between populations.

Ed keeps a young man named Louis Sasson warm in his jacket. Sesson’s tracking collar had just been replaced, as Ai-Ae Louie is growing and his colleagues checked it every three months to make sure he wasn’t too tight. This photo was taken during the Madagascar winter of June 2012. (Image credit: Richard ae). Before the two recent genomic studies on ae-ace, including the PNAS study, only a comparatively smaller amount of the genetic code of these animals had been examined, according to Lewis, who contributed to both genomic studies. “We just greatly expanded the amount of knowledge about this particular species,” he said.

Base pairs alone are not enough

Of course there are challenges. It can be difficult to obtain specimens of rare and timid endangered animals like the aye-ace. And creating a sequence for an animal whose genome has never been sequenced before is a challenge. To help others who wish to conduct ecological or conservation research with the genome, the team has made their analytical tools available online on the Galaxy website.

“Conservation genomics won’t work very well on its own,” said George Perry, an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University who led the recent aye-aye study with Lewis. “We need to combine this with ecological information and behavioral data. Necessary.” Some of this information about the tracking collars that Lewis and his colleagues have placed on the A-Ace suggests that these lemurs have a wide range, with individuals occupying 1,500 acres (600 ha).

This has a direct impact on conservation plans, as a protected area must be large enough to have a sufficient number of ranges for ace-ace. Luis, who is also the CEO of the Malagasy NGO Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, and his colleagues are also collecting samples from other regions.

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