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Genetic and radiographic insights into the only known mounted specimen of Kangaroo Island Emu

Cibois, Alice; Vallotton, Laurent; Ericson, Per G. P.; Blom, Mozes P. K.; Irestedt, Martin

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Revue suisse de Zoologie
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The Natural History Museum of Geneva holds a mounted specimen of a dwarf emu, which is believed to be the only preserved skin of the extinct Kangaroo Island Emu, Dromaius baudinianus. We obtained new radiographs that show the absence of remaining bones in the preparation, confirming previous statements found in the museum’s archives. Moreover, we sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of this specimen and we compared it to all available emu sequences. The mitogenome of the specimen held in Geneva is very close to that of Common Emus Dromaius novaehollandiae. Overall, the genetic results on insular emus support a shallow divergence between the mainland population and the – now extinct – populations from King Island, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania. Based on these results, we agree with previous molecular studies that the insular emu taxa should be treated as three different subspecies of the Common Emu.

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