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Discovering The Origin Of The Species Through DNA Testing


Charles Darwin is, of course, a luminary in the field of evolutionary science but even he couldn’t have predicted how much the use of DNA testing would benefit scientists in their quests to discover new species throughout the world. Even today, it is argued by experts, up to 90% of the creatures on earth remain unknown. DNA tests are doing its part to redress this imbalance.

Story Of A Big Cat

DNA testing has been used to discover an entirely new species of big cat which was found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Scientists studied the cat’s DNA and found out that it was, in fact, an entirely different species from its closely related cousins. The rare clouded leopard was thought to be the same as those found on mainland South East Asia but tests proved this not to be the case. Stephen O’Brien, head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity said, “DNA testing highlighted around 40 differences between the two species”. Stuart Chapman of WWF summed up the scientist’s findings very well by stating, “Who said a leopard could never change its spots?”

Feline DNA Tests for Disease

Feline DNA testing goes beyond the realm of tracing rare leopards. In fact, companies are offering various DNA tests to help prevent disease, trace cat ancestry, confirm the paternity of a litter of cats and many more. Cats are the most popular household pet, by far outnumbering dogs or any other pet. The most popular cats are short haired cats, closely followed by the many different varieties of Persian cats. Persian cats tend to suffer from cysts on their ovaries , known as Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which can sometimes kill them; scientists have developed feline PKD disease testing to help reduce the incidence of the disease by allowing owners to identity cats that carry the PKD gene.

New Species Discovered Daily

DNA testing has revolutionised the way we look at our world as it is frequently discovering new species living amongst us. The discovery of the clouded leopard in Borneo is far from an isolated incident and here are just some of the most recent species to be have been uncovered through these tests:

  • 8 Unknown Species Found In Cave – A cave in Israel, isolated from the outside world for millions of years, recently provided a treasure trove of new species. Testing showed the creatures to be related to scorpions and shrimps.
  • Tanzanian Monkey – A new species of monkey was unearthed in Tanzania in 2006 and test results showed it to be the first new genus of living primate from Africa in 83 years.
  • Leaf Deer – A new species of deer, a mere 20 inches tall at the shoulder, was discovered to be completely unique from its counterparts through DNA testing. The leaf deer is the world’s smallest deer.

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