Tarsiers were the relatives of man, say genetics

MOSCOW, 6 sen – news. Genetics for the first time decoded the genome of the tarsier, a small Primate with a strange evolutionary roots, and came to the conclusion that these bizarre animals are distant relatives of man, according to an article published in the journal Nature Communications.

“We prosecutorial DNA tarsiers not only in order to understand what place they occupy in the evolutionary history of primates, but also because of their physiology, anatomy and dietary habits are super-unique to our relatives,” says Wesley Warren (Wesley Warren) from Washington University in St. Louis (USA).

Tarsiers – small primates living on the Islands South-Eastern and Eastern Asia, having a very unusual appearance, daily routine and physiology. All tarsiers are carnivores, leading nocturnal – they feed on insects and small vertebrates. They know how to jump the long bones of the legs, they have they inherited his name and, as recently discovered by biologists, communicate using ultrasonic sounds.

Tarsiers are a mystery to scientists, as long as nobody knows, how did these unusual animals, who are their closest kin, and when they separated from a common tree of the evolution of primates. In particular, they have a number of features, which makes them the more primitive wet-nosed primates, such as lemurs or Lori, but they have some features which unite them with “shoesie” monkeys and humans.

Warren and his colleagues have given answers to all these questions, deciphering the genome of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) and comparing it to how DNA in humans, monkeys, and galago, shonesy primates, similar in appearance to Laurie and tarsiers.

Scientists have uncovered the ancestry of these unusual animals, paying attention to how many repeated DNA segments, the so-called Alu-repeats, contain their genome. This element, a kind of self-replicating genetic “parasite”, is present in the genomes of all our kinsmen and lemurs – it appeared the ancestor of all primates, and the number of Alu repeats today believe genetics grew as the evolution of our squad.

A comparison of the number of these Alu repeats have shown that in fact, tarsiers are among suhonos primates, not wet-nosed animal, it is believed by many zoologists. Thus, the tarsiers were more close relatives of a man than we previously thought.

In addition, the genome of the tarsier confirmed the suspicions of environmentalists – their population is really declining, which, in the opinion of the authors, is associated with deforestation in Asia, and poaching hunting of tarsiers, which have recently become popular in the West as Pets. This fact, according to Warren, speaks of the need for speedy implementation of protective measures in order to save these animals from extinction.

In addition to the establishment of the place tarsiers on the map of the evolution of primates, the team of Warren also found two hundred genes, changes which were unique to tarsiers. Scientists believe that mutations in these genes explain how tarsius acquired an unusually large eyes and long legs enable them to lead a night lifestyle.

About a quarter of these genes, as shown by further analysis, are associated with diseases of the eyes and limbs in humans. How do you think Warren and his colleagues, the study of these genes may help doctors understand how developing a rare disease of the eyes, feet and hands in humans.