The first sequenced tiger genome shows that big cats evolved to kill.
Scientists mapped the genes of the endangered Siberian tiger (or Amur tiger), both to understand the genes that make big cat species distinct from one another and to aid efforts to preserve genetic diversity in wild tiger populations.
The largest tiger subspecies, Siberian tigers weigh as much as 660 pounds (300 kilograms) and grow to some ten feet (three meters) in length. Only about 450 Siberian tigers exist in the wild, and around 4,000 tigers total are thought to remain in their natural habitats.
“We looked at this very large tiger first to see what made it distinctive from other cats,” said genome expert Jong Bhak of South Korea’s Personal Genomics Institute in Suwon, a co-author of the Nature Communications study reporting the mapping of the Siberian tiger genome.