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.


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.

Mountain zebra
Equus zebra
Equus caballus
Plains zebra
Equus burchelli

And for an outgroup they chose the cow.


              Bos taurus

Return to the Research Plan for the next step.