BEIJING, March 3, Xinhua -- Genome sequencing has shown that red panda, the endangered furry mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China, are two different species, providing a theoretical basis for more targeted conservation efforts.
Scientists previously divided red pandas into two subspecies with the Nujiang River in southwest China's Yunnan Province as the geological boundary. Those to the east of the river were classified as the Chinese red panda, and those to the west were the Himalayan red panda. But the classification has long been debated.
In the latest study, researchers from the Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences did whole-genome sequencing on 69 red pandas. They also analyzed 49 red panda's mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from the mother, and the Y chromosome sequencing from 49 male red pandas.
The researchers reported in the online version of Science Advances that red pandas, based on the analysis results, fall into two genetic clusters, and the two clusters are distinct enough to be classified as two distinct species.Read more ...