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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Penn State students are about to do DNA testing on the Puma that generated the "Nittany Lions" nickname for their sports teams.............Killed in 1856 by a Pennsylvania farmer, students are going to test the "stuffed" animal DNA remains and compare it to living Pumas in our Western States and Florida..............Since it has been previously established that all North American Pumas are the same species(no subsspecies contrary to what generations of biolgists had previously thought), the Penn State project will not end up revealing something that is not already known

BLOG: The 'Original' Penn State Nittany Lion Defines History
Follow PSU Athletics:   
April 28, 2015 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - What's in a name? The age-old question makes an attempt to understand what someone's name means and how it defines them.
Schreyer Honors College student Maya Evanitsky is taking a unique approach to answering that question. Evanitsky, Dr. George Perry and a team of undergraduate students will research and compare the "original Nittany Lion's" DNA sequence in comparison to other ancient and current lion populations in the United States.

The "original Nittany Lion" that inspired the beloved Penn State icon is a brush lion that was killed in 1856 by farmer Samuel E. Brush. Now extinct, the brush [Nittany] represents more than just Penn State's mascot, it is a small piece of Central Pennsylvania's history.
Sequencing the Nittany Lion Genome

Evanitsky and Dr. Perry opened the "original" Nittany Lion's showcase for the first time on April 13, 2015 to begin the first phase of her research, carefully removing a DNA sample from the lion's leg.

"We're hoping to get DNA from that," said Evanitsky. "The ultimate goal is to sequence the DNA and compare that to DNA sequences in genes of populations of current mountain lions. We're hoping to compare how diverse the species has become and how much they've differentiated over time."

The "Original" Nittany Lion's Preservation
She uses the word "hoping" because this lion has gone through two restorations since its original stuffing of tow. The first restoration took place in 1934 followed by the next in 1992, where various substitutions had to be made to preserve the natural look of the lion using resources like deer fur and polyethylene.

Spending nearly 40 years in the basement of the Carnegie Museum, the lion was displayed in various locations including the St. Louis World's Fair, Chicago World's Fair and the William Penn Museum prior to permanently moving to Happy Valley.
These substitutions make it difficult to remove an authentic sample but Evanitsky is confident that hers is authentic.

The Process
Using the Ancient DNA laboratory at University Park, the junior biochemistry and molecular biology major and her team will compare the DNA from her sample with various other ancient lion samples including mountain lions that currently alive in the western US and Florida.

Potential samples and local displays in the region are located at the Lycoming County Historical Society and Taber Museum as well as the Ecology Lab in Science Hall at Albright College.

The development in ancient DNA methods has made 2015 the right year for this research project.

"Our technology and ancient DNA methods have improved so much that our chance of success is a lot higher than it would have been in the past," explains Dr. Perry. "There are important things that we can learn from studying things that we've lost."
Click here to read more.

Eastern puma (=cougar) (Puma concolor couguar)
Summary and Evaluation
Mark McCollough
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Maine Field Office
Orono, Maine

March 2011

By the 1980s and 1990s, increasing knowledge of the extensive movements by pumas, their broad,
contiguous distribution, few geographic barriers to gene flow, and relatively minor, if any, phenotypic
variability provided further evidence to doubt the validity of so many subspecies of pumas in North

 Culver et al. (2000) examined genetic markers (3 mitochondrial DNA genes and 10 nuclear
microsatellite DNA loci) and diversity in puma population throughout North and South America. She
collected tissue samples from 315 pumas throughout North and South America (261 from
contemporary individuals and 54 from museum specimens, including 6 eastern puma P. c. couguar
specimens). She documented 14 unique maternal types, and only two of these types occurred north
of Nicaragua. Phylogenetic trees lumped the genotypes into just 6 groupings – North America,
Central America, northern South America, central South America, eastern South America, and
southern South America 

South American pumas have higher levels of mitochondrial DNA diversity and microsatellite satellite
markers. In contrast, North and Central American populations have no mitochondrial DNA variation
(except in the Olympic Peninsula) and moderate levels of microsatellite DNA variation.

patterns of genetic diversity formed the basis for Culver’s recommendation to revise the taxonomy to
just six subspecies – five in South America and all North American (north of Nicaraugua) as a single
subspecies Puma concolor couguar named after the oldest named subspecies by Kerr in 1792 (Culver
et al. 2000).

For North America, the accepted taxonomic list of mammals is the Revised Checklist of North
American Mammals North of Mexico which is published in the Occasional Papers series of the
Museum of Texas Tech University.

The most recent list (Baker et al. 2003) is the eighth version but
is due for revision. The checklist is at the species level only and lists Puma concolor.
On a global basis, Mammal Species of the World (Wilson and Reeder 2005) is widely accepted as the
leading global authority on mammalian taxonomy (Haig et al. 2006). This publication lists species
and subspecies. Mammal taxonomy is revised and published about every 5 years. With each
revision, proposed changes from the scientific literature are reviewed, and some are accepted while
others rejected.

 A checklist committee established by the American Society of Mammalogists Board
of Directors and Association of Systematics Collections oversees this periodic review of worldmammalian taxonomy. In the early 2000s, editors Wilson and Reeder assigned Dr. W. Chris
Wozencraft of Bethel University, Indiana, as the sole reviewer of worldwide Order Carnivora
taxonomy (including the puma). Citing only Culver et al. (2000) Dr. Wozencraft revised the
taxonomy of the genus Puma in Mammal Species of the World (Wilson and Reeder 2005) to a single North American subspecies based on Culver’s recommendations

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