It was hunted to extinction, but lack of genome diversity reduced any chance of survival
“Even if humans hadn’t hunted the Tasmanian tiger to extinction, its low genetic diversity may have naturally doomed the curious marsupial, researchers have found.
“We found that the thylacine had even less genetic diversity than the Tasmanian devil,” study researcher Andrew Pask, of the University of Connecticut, said in a statement. “If they were still be around today, they’d be at a severe risk, just like the devil.” “
The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE.
By Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience
While the cheetah has almost as severe a restriction of genetic diversity and is not critically endangered (though it’s extremely difficult to breed in captivity, due to poor sperm counts and motility), this is always interesting. I wonder when their genetic bottleneck occurred?
The bottleneck for the Thylacine probably occured when the land bridge between the Australian mainland and Tasmania disappeared.
Like many marsupial species, they originally occured all over Australia but the Thylacine population on the mainland gradually became extinct before white settlers arrived.