Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

DNA sequences from the quagga, an extinct member of the horse family

Abstract

To determine whether DNA survives and can be recovered from the remains of extinct creatures, we have examined dried muscle from a museum specimen of the quagga, a zebra-like species (Equus quagga) that became extinct in 1883 (ref. 1). We report that DNA was extracted from this tissue in amounts approaching 1% of that expected from fresh muscle, and that the DNA was of relatively low molecular weight. Among the many clones obtained from the quagga DNA, two containing pieces of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) were sequenced. These sequences, comprising 229 nucleotide pairs, differ by 12 base substitutions from the corresponding sequences of mtDNA from a mountain zebra, an extant member of the genus Equus. The number, nature and locations of the substitutions imply that there has been little or no postmortem modification of the quagga DNA sequences, and that the two species had a common ancestor 3–4 Myr ago, consistent with fossil evidence concerning the age of the genus Equus2.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Dolan, J. M. Zoonooz 56, 13–15 (1983).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Savage, D. E. & Russell, D. E. Mammalian Paleofaunas of the World, 346–397 (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, 1983).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Rau, R. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 65, 41–87 (1974); 77, 27–45 (1978).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Robbins, J. et al. J. biol. Chem. 254, 6187–6195 (1979).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Southern, E. M. J. molec. Biol. 98, 503–517 (1975).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Rigby, P. W. J., Dieckmann, M., Rhodes, C. & Berg, P. J. molec. Biol. 113, 237–251 (1977).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Sanger, F., Nicklen, S. & Coulson, A. R. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 74, 5463–5467 (1977).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Anderson, S. et al. J. molec. Biol. 156, 683–717 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Anderson, S. et al. Nature 290, 457–465 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brown, G. G. & Simpson, M. V. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 79, 3246–3250 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, W. M., Prager, E. M., Wang, A. & Wilson, A. C. J. molec. Evol. 18, 225–239 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. George, M. & Ryder, O. A. Genetics 104, s27 (1983).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Prager, E. M., Wilson, A. C., Lowenstein, J. M. & Sarich, V. M. Science 209, 287–289 (1980).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Bennett, D. K. Syst. Zool. 29, 272–287 (1980).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Eisenmann, V. Cah. Paléont. 1–186 (1980).

  16. Groves, C. P. & Willoughby, D. P. Mammalia 45, 321–354 (1981).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Higuchi, R. & Wilson, A. C. Fedn Proc. 43, 1557 (1984).

    Google Scholar 

  18. Poinar, G. O. & Hess, R. Science 215, 1241–1242 (1982).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. O'Farrell, P. Focus 3, 1 (1981).

    Google Scholar 

  20. Scheller, R. H., Dickerson, R. E., Boyer, H. W., Riggs, A. D. & Itakura, K. Science 196, 177–180 (1977).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Huynh, T. V., Young, R. A. & Davis, R. W. in DNA Cloning Techniques: A Practical Approach (ed. Glover, D. M.) (IRL, Oxford, 1984).

    Google Scholar 

  22. Hohn, B. Meth. Enzym. 68, 299–309 (1979).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Young, R. A. & Davis, R. W. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 80, 1194–1198 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hoyt, M. A., Knight, D. M., Das, A., Miller, H. I. & Echols, H. Cell 31, 565–573 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Feiss, M. & Becker, A. in Lambda II (eds Hendrix, R. W., Roberts, J. W., Stahl, F. W. & Weisberg, R. A.) 305–330 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, 1983).

    Google Scholar 

  26. Woo, S. L. C. Meth. Enzym. 68, 389–395 (1979).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Doolittle, R. F. Science 214, 149–159 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Higuchi, R., Bowman, B., Freiberger, M. et al. DNA sequences from the quagga, an extinct member of the horse family. Nature 312, 282–284 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1038/312282a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/312282a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing