A study led by researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, published in Nature Communications, shows that the last remaining populations of the Sumatran rhinoceros display surprisingly low levels of inbreeding. The researchers sequenced the genomes from 21 modern and historical rhinoceros’ specimens, which enabled them to investigate the genetic health in rhinos living today as well as a population that recently became extinct.
”To our surprise, we found relatively low inbreeding levels and high genetic diversity in the present-day populations on Borneo and Sumatra”, says Johanna von Seth, PhD student at the Centre for Palaeogenetics and co-lead author on the paper.
With less than 100 individuals remaining, the Sumatran rhinoceros is one of the most endangered mammal species in the world. Recent reports of health issues and low fecundity have raised fears that the remaining populations are suffering from inbreeding problems. However, very little has been known about the genetic status of these enigmatic rhinos. MORE
Header image: Kertam, a young male Sumatran Rhino whose DNA was sequenced in the study. Credit: Scuba Zoo.