A new species of wild cat has been identified living in Brazil
Scientists had thought that there was just one single species of the housecat-sized Brazilian tigrina, Leopardus tigrinus.
However, the latest DNA evidence show that the tigrinas that occupy northeastern Brazil are a completely separate species from their southern counterparts, now called Leopardus guttulus, with no evidence of interbreeding between them.
A team of researchers led by Dr Eduardo Eizirik from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, and Tatiane Trigo of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul examined samples of DNA from the two species and found them to be evolutionary distinct, having been separated by at least 100,000 years.
The two tigrina species, the researchers suggest, are suited to different habitats, with the northeastern cats living primarily in savannahs, as well as dry shrub lands and forests, and the southern species living in denser and wetter Atlantic forests.
“Such distinct habitat associations provide a hint to potentially adaptive differences between these newly recognized species and may have been involved in their initial evolutionary divergence,” says Tatiane Trigo.
“Our study highlights the need for urgent attention focused on the Brazilian northeastern tigrinas, which are virtually unknown with respect to most aspects of their biology,” says Eduardo Eizirik.
From Wildlife Extra.com