Genetic Analysis Reveals Origins of Modern Lions

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The genetic origin of modern lion species has been uncovered by a team of researchers, including scientists from Durham University in the United Kingdom.

The genetic origin of modern lion species has been uncovered by a team of researchers, including scientists from Durham University in the United Kingdom.

Results of the study , which examined DNA information from living lions and specimens from museum collections, show that the most recent common ancestor between lions currently living in different parts of Africa and India lived around 124 thousand years ago.

There are two groups of modern lions separated geographically into the subspecies living in Eastern and Southern Africa and the ones living in Central and West Africa and India, which are endangered.

Doctor Ross Barnett from Durham University who led the study is quoted as saying: “Lion populations in West Africa and Central Africa, which have drastically declined over the past few decades, are actually more closely related to the Indian lion than to lions in, say, Somalia or Botswana.”

Another new finding from the study shows that the Barbary lion of North Africa which is believed to be extinct, was closely related to the lion populations in India.

About one third of the African lions are believed to have vanished over the past twenty years, so understanding the genetic diversity between species could be important for any future repopulation efforts.

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