The southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) is one of the two living species of lesser anteaters. Sometimes also called collared or vested anteaters, southern tamanduas have a very variable fur coloration pattern that can range from a complete or partial black vest to a fully golden or black in some individuals. The southern tamandua is distributed throughout most of tropical South America from the east of the Andes of Colombia and Venezuela to northern Uruguay and northern Argentina. Unlike giant anteaters that are fully terrestrial, southern anteaters are semi-arboreal and occupy a wide variety of habitats, such as open savannas, grasslands, rainforests and mangroves. Mainly nocturnal, their activity pattern also depends on the availability of ants and termites on which they almost exclusively feed, and which they hunt both on the ground and in trees.

Southern tamandua by Instituto Últimos Refúgios, [CC BY-NC], via inaturalist.org

In terms of conservation, the southern anteater is currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Although there are currently no major threats identified to this anteater species, it is hunted for meat in some portions of its range, sometimes killed by domestic dogs, more and more often sold as a pet species, and is frequently found as roadkill in some countries such as French Guiana. Moreover habitat loss and degradation, wildfires, and land use change represents a threat in some areas.


Today, we share a chromosome-length assembly for the southern anteater. This is a Hi-C upgrade to a draft genome hybrid assembly generated by combining Nanopore long reads with Illumina short reads by Rémi Allio, Frédéric Delsuc and team at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université de Montpellier as part of the ConvergeAnt project. The original sample used for the initial draft assembly comes from a fresh roadkill individual found near Kourou (French Guiana) in 2018. The corresponding specimen (M3075) is part of the JAGUARS collection curated by Benoit de Thoisy (Institut Pasteur de Cayenne and Kwata NGO, French Guiana). The sample for the Hi-C upgrade was donated by Fiera from the Houston Zoo.


Check out the contact map for the southern anteater's 28 chromosomes below, and find more data and links related to this assembly on the corresponding assembly page!


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With more than two meters from head to tail, the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is the largest anteater species. Anteaters are most closely related to sloths within xenarthrans (Order Pilosa), which also include armadillos (Order Cingulata). As all xenarthrans, giant anteaters originated in South America and are widely distributed throughout the Neotropics from Southern Brazil to Honduras in Central America. Unlike other anteater species, giant anteaters are fully terrestrial and occupy a diversity of habitats from tropical moist forests, dry forests, savannas and open grasslands.

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) by Mehgan Murphy, [CC BY 2.0], via flickr.com

Feeding exclusively on social insects, the giant anteater is the ultimate termites and ants eating machine in being able to ingest more than 30,000 insects from 80 different colonies in a single night! This highly specialized myrmecophagous diet has triggered the evolution of an arsenal of morphological adaptations to efficiently forage and digest such impressive amounts of insects. The giant anteater possesses powerful claws for breaking into ant and termite nests and an extremely elongated tongue (reaching 60 cm) coated with sticky saliva to catch the social insects. Being completely toothless, preys are ingested directly, predigested by saliva produced through enlarged salivary glands, and further process in a muscular stomach.


Male and female adult giant anteaters are solitary and only paired once every two years for a brief courtship period during the breeding season. They usually produce a single offspring that stays under maternal care with the female carrying the young on her back until it is able to walk, about two or three months after birth. Young remain with their mother until they are about one year old and become experienced enough to disperse.


From the conservation point of view, the giant anteater is currently classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Despite its wide geographical distribution, habitat loss is a major concern and represents a significant threat in many parts of its range. There have been many records of local extinctions in Central America (Guatemala and Belize) and in the southern parts of the distribution (Uruguay). In grasslands such as in Brazil, the species is particularly susceptible to fires and animals are sometimes killed on roads. It has been estimated that the giant anteater population has suffered an overall reduction in population size of more than 30% over the last 60 years (three generations).


Today, we share a chromosome-length assembly for the giant anteater. This is a Hi-C upgrade to a draft genome hybrid assembly generated by combining Nanopore long reads with Illumina short reads by Rémi Allio, Frédéric Delsuc and team at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université de Montpellier as part of the ConvergeAnt project (https://www.convergeant-project.com). The original sample used for the initial draft assembly comes from a captive individual born at Duisburg Zoo (Germany) in 2014 and who died at Cayenne Zoo (French Guiana) in 2018. This sample (M3023) is part of the JAGUARS collection curated by Benoit de Thoisy (Institut Pasteur de Cayenne and Kwata NGO, French Guiana). The sample for the Hi-C upgrade was donated by Rio soon after she was born at the Houston Zoo.


Check out the interactive contact map featuring 30 giant anteater chromosomes below. More data and links related to this assembly can be found on the corresponding assembly page!


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Updated: Jun 17

Trachops cirrhosus, known as the fringe-lipped bat or the frog-eating bat, is a member of the New World leaf-nosed bats, Phyllostomidae. This species is the only member of its genus and is one of the only carnivorous bat species in the Americas, feeding on primarily insects alongside lizards, frogs, and even fruits and seeds. Fringe-lipped bats detect their prey using their keen hearing; they listen for frog calls to hunt frogs, and listen for rustling noises in vegetation and leaf litter to find lizards and large insects. These bats are distributed from southern Mexico to southern Brazil and roost in trees and caves. This species is listed as an IUCN Least Concern.

Photo of Trachops cirrhosus in Belize by Sherri and Brock Fenton

Today, we release the first chromosome-length assembly for Trachops cirrhosus. This is a $1K-model genome assembly, with a contig n50 = 60 Kb and a scaffold n50 = 124 Mb. (For more details on our assembly procedure, please see our Methods page.) The liver sample used for in situ Hi-C preparation (AMNH-AMCC-225240) came from a male individual of Trachops cirrhosis collected on the 26th of April, 2017 at the Ka’Kabish Archaeological Reserve in Orange Walk District, Belize (17.81531 N, 88.73057 W). Capture and export of this specimen were licensed under Belize Forest Department permits WL/2/1/17(16), WL/2/1/17(19), and WL/2/7/17(21). The voucher specimen and data for this sample are archived at the American Museum of Natural History under catalog number AMNH-Mammalogy-279525. We graciously thank Nancy Simmons (AMNH Department of Mammalogy), Svetlana Katanova (AMNH Ambrose Monell Cryo Collection), and Daniel Becker (University of Oklahoma) for access to this sample.


This is the third phyllostomid bat species released on dnazoo.org (see Seba's short-tailed bat [Carollia perspicillata] and the Jamaican fruit bat [Artibeus jamaicensis]) and the 15th bat species overall!


Check out the 15 chromosomes of the fringe-lipped bat in the interactive JuiceBox.js session below, and follow the assembly page link for more data.


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