Practically the same DNA
Researchers have succeeded in decoding the genome sequence of tigers, snow leopards and lions. They discovered that the DNA of tigers and domestic cats had a 95.6% similarity. The evolutionary line split into two species around 10.8 million years ago.
Where the difference can be found
The sequencing of the feline genome allowed the discovery of genes explaining why the big cats are so large and muscled, the gene explaining why they are carnivores, and the two genes that allow snow leopards to adapt to life in high mountainous regions with low levels of oxygen in the air.
Why such a study?
The mapping of genomes from individuals of different populations, also aims at helping to select individuals for repopulation of endangered feline species, so avoiding animals that are blood related, or too closely linked.
The study was published in the 17th September 2013 issue of Nature Communications.