Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iran's endangered cheetahs are a unique subspecies

An Iranian cheetah (c) Arash Ghoddousi / IRIran DOE / CACPIran's critically endangered cheetahs are the last remaining survivors of a unique, ancient Asian subspecies, genetics experts reveal.New analysis confirms Iran's cheetahs belong to the subspecies Acinonyx jubatus venaticus.DNA comparisons show that these Asiatic cheetahs split from other cheetahs, which live in Africa, 30,000 years ago.Researchers suggest that Iran's cheetahs must be conserved to protect the future of all cheetahs.

Cheetahs formerly existed in 44 countries in Africa but are now only found in 29.

Historically, they were also recorded across southwest and central Asia but can now only be found in Iran.

Scientists have previously said that cheetahs have low genetic variability, theorising that a "population crash" approximately 10,000 years ago led to inbreeding in the species.

Despite this, five 'different' subspecies are currently described according to where they live. ...

via BBC - Earth News - Iran's endangered cheetahs are a unique subspecies.

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