DNA Reveals That Silky Anteaters Are Seven Species

The silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) has previously been recognized to be a single species divided into several sub-species. But a new genetic analysis, published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, suggests that this enigmatic mammal is not one species, but seven separate ones. Lead author Dr. Flávia Miranda, a researcher with the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, and co-authors analyzed 33 samples of DNA and examined more than 280 specimens of this rare mammal in museums worldwide. “We examined a total of 287 specimens of Cyclopes, including skins and skulls, housed in 20 natural history collections and 33 samples for molecular analyses,” they said. “Based on evidence provided by molecular phylogenetics using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, allied with coalescent species delimitation analyses, diagnostic characters of the skull, color patterns and structures of pelage, we suggest that the genus Cyclopes comprises at least seven species.”

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