Research Letters

Hybrid wildebeest (Artiodactyla: Bovidae) provide further evidence for shared signatures of admixture in mammalian crania

Rebecca R. Ackermann, James S. Brink, Savvas Vrahimis, Bonita de Klerk
South African Journal of Science | Vol 106, No 11/12 | a423 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajs.v106i11/12.423 | © 2010 Rebecca R. Ackermann, James S. Brink, Savvas Vrahimis, Bonita de Klerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 August 2010 | Published: 12 November 2010

About the author(s)

Rebecca R. Ackermann, University of Cape Town, South Africa
James S. Brink, National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Savvas Vrahimis, Tourism & Environmental Affairs, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Bonita de Klerk, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Abstract

The genus Connochaetes, Lichtenstein, 1814, contains two extant species, the blue wildebeest (C. taurinus, Burchell, 1823) and the black wildebeest (C. gnou, Zimmermann, 1780). In recent years, forced sympatry in confined areas within South Africa has led to interbreeding between these taxa and to fertile hybrid offspring. Here we report on a series of cranial characteristics of a hybrid wildebeest population culled at Spioenkop Dam Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Dental, sutural and horn morphological anomalies occur at high frequency within these animals. Similar cranial morphological anomalies have been shown in other mammalian hybrids and this study provides further evidence that such anomalies may characterise hybridisation more broadly across phylogenetically divergent mammalian groups, although the anomalies appear to differ in their expression across taxa. An increased ability to identify hybrids may also have important applications in the conservation of the endemic black wildebeest.

Keywords

Connochaetes; conservation; cranial anomalies; dental anomalies; gene flow; hybridisation; South Africa

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