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SOLVED MYSTERY OF BLACK TIGERS OF SIMILIPAL TIGER RESERVE

SOLVED MYSTERY OF BLACK TIGERS OF SIMILIPAL TIGER RESERVE

Context:

A team of scientists from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore has solved the genetic mystery of Similipal’s so-called black tigers.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • It found that a single genetic mutation in these tigers led to black stripes to broaden or spread into the tawny background.
  • Tigers have a dark stripe pattern on a light background of white or golden.
  • A rare pattern variant, distinguished by stripes that are broadened and fused together, is also found in both wild and captive populations. It is known as pseudo-melanism, which is different from true melanism, a condition characterised by unusually high deposition of melanin, a dark pigment.
  • Through whole-genome data and pedigree-based association analyses from zoo tigers, the study found that pseudo-melanism is linked to a single mutation in Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep), a gene responsible for similar traits in other cat species.

Pseudo-melanistic Tigers:

  • Pseudo-melanistic ones have been camera-trapped repeatedly, and only, in Simlipal, a 2,750-km tiger reserve in Odisha, since 2007.
  • Truly melanistic tigers are yet to be found.

Simlipal National Park:

  • It is a national park and a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in Odisha.
  • It covers 2,750 km2 (1,060 sq mi).

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