Ruminating on ruminants’ evolutionary tree

A mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) sits atop Mount Evans in Colorado. ©Pat Gaines

Researcher have completed a detailed study of the genomes of ruminants in an effort to shed light on the evolution of species from deer to antelope to domesticated species. The study, published in Science, included more than 40 trillion base pairs of raw DNA, which were assembled into genomes for 44 species, from goats to giraffes. They found evidence for large population declines for many about 100,000 years ago, as humans were migrating out of Africa.

“As ecosystems around the world begin to show the impact of climate change, knowing what the genes and their variants are can help with conservation efforts of threatened and endangered ruminant species,” Harris Lewin, a co-author and chair of the Earth BioGenome Project, told UC Davis.

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