Researchers from the Natural History Museum in Denmark have sequenced the genome of a narwhal found near Greenland and discovered that narwhals have less genetic diversity than anticipated. Traditionally, this can be a death sentence since individuals are more susceptible to the same diseases.
Low genetic diversity is usually the result of a sudden event that wipes out large numbers of a species. In the case of the narwhal however, this seems to have been a much longer process. Their genes show that diversity has been slowly declining over a million years. Researchers suggest this slow decrease may have allowed narwhals to retain diversity where it matters. The study highlights the need to better understand low genetic diversity in species before we consider it a problem.
Source: New Scientist
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