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A sunny bear

The Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is natively found in parts of Asia, stretching from the Himalayas and the Szechuan region of China to the Malayan peninsula. Their habitats are typically dense with trees, and these bears are famous for being agile and fast tree-climbers! [1]

Belonging to the Ursidae family, they are the smallest bears of their family and are usually under 1.5m tall. To conceal this small size, the normally black colored bears sometimes have a ‘U’ shaped, white patch on their chest that gives the appearance of larger size to predators and attackers. The Malayan sun bear’s walk is often described as unique, as their four legs turn in while walking, obscuring their fairly big paws. [2]

Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) by David Lochlin, [CC BY 2.0], via

While the exact population of these bears is not currently known, their numbers are declining as a result of increase deforestation, especially for collection of coffee and rubber plantations. Because of this, The Malayan sun bear is currently designated as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List and there are calls to learn more about these bears and develop conservation efforts. [3]

Today we release the genome assembly for the Malayan sun bear. This is a $1K genome assembly that has a contig n50 = 74 KB and a scaffold n50 = 60 MB (see Dudchenko et al., 2018 for procedure details). We thank the San Antonio Zoo for providing the sample used for this assembly!

This is the 4th member of the Ursidae family we've released on the DNAZoo blog! Check out these assembly pages for the American black bear, grizzly bear, and the polar bear.

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