What is a Quagga?


Obtaining Tissue Samples - the Quagga and other Organisms


If the quagga had been an extant, not an extinct, animal in 1984 then Allan Wilson would have approached a zoo to ask for a sample of blood. This sampling could have been done when a routine veterinary medical examination was performed. There would have been no need to injure the animal. Now, in the 21st century, DNA sequencing methods are so sensitive that only a few hairs may be enough.

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However, it was not so easy to get a fresh tissue sample from a quagga because the species was extinct. Higuchi and Wilson were given a small fragment of preserved skin by the Museum of Natural History at Mainz, Germany. The skin had come from a quagga that died 140 years earlier, at about 1840. Ths skin had been salted to kill bacteria and fungi, and so preserve it.
Higuchi, Wilson and colleagues used less than a gram of this tissue in their analysis.

What other animals did they include?
The fundamental question was whether the quagga was more closely related to a zebra or a horse. So they included 2 species of zebra, and the horse, of course.

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Mountain zebra
Equus zebra
Horse
Equus caballus
Plains zebra
Equus burchelli


And for an outgroup they chose the cow.

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                   Cow
              Bos taurus

Return to the Research Plan for the next step.