Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Ancient DNA from the North American flat-headed peccary reveals it’s phylogenetic position and a genetically diverse population prior to extinction (#650)

Tahlia Perry 1 2 , Ayla van Loenen 1 , Holly Heineger 1 , Carol Lee 3 , Jaime Gongora 3 , Alan Cooper 1 , Kieren J Mitchell 1
  1. Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  2. Department of Genetics and Evolution, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  3. Sydney School of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The geographical range of extant peccaries extends from southwestern United States through Central America and into northern Argentina. However, from the Miocene until the Pleistocene now-extinct peccary species inhabited the entirety of North America - how and when peccaries moved from North to South America remains unclear. The North American flat-headed peccary (Platygonus compressus) became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene and is one of the most abundant subfossil taxa found in North America. Despite this extensive fossil record its phylogenetic position has not been resolved. This study is the first to present DNA data from the flat-headed peccary and full mitochondrial genome sequences of all extant peccary species. We performed a molecular phylogenetic analysis to determine the relationships among extinct and extant peccary species. Our results suggested that the flat-headed peccary is sister-taxon to a clade comprising the extant peccary species in contrast with previous hypotheses. Divergence date estimates from our molecular dating analyses suggest that if extant peccary diversification occurred in South America then their common ancestor must have dispersed from North America to South America well before the establishment of the Isthmus of Panama. We also investigated the genetic diversity of the flat-headed peccary by performing a preliminary population study on 12 specimens from Sheriden Cave, Ohio. Flat-headed peccaries from Sheriden Cave appear to be genetically diverse and show no signature of population decline prior to extinction. Future explorations of flat-headed peccary populations is likely to reveal interesting insights into Late Pleistocene life prior to extinction.