Most reptiles, unlike mammals, are unable to control their body temperature. They have to rely on things in their environment like the sun and shade to help achieve their optimal body temperature. The tegu lizard, also known as Salvator merianae, has been discovered to be able to raise its own body temperature 10 degrees celsius above its surroundings; putting it closer to becoming a warm- blooded animal. They are native to South America, but the international trade in exotic pets has been the main reason that the species has entered into new environments. The tegu is seen to have very unique biological characteristics and a high- quality genome sequence. This in turn will serve as a great resource for identifying the prospective cause and molecular basis of these aspects.
A team of researchers led by Michael Hiller at Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, determined and assembled the tegu genome sequence. It was more than 2 billion DNA letters long and contains more than 22,000 genes. It is stated so far as the most complete assembly of any reptile genome. They used something called "long read" sequencing technology in order to meet the challenges of assembling the reptile genome. The complete sequence of the tegu is assisting in other research such as limb loss in snakes. Researchers proposed that since snakes derived from reptile ancestors with limbs, they needed a well- assembled genome as a reference. Researchers also compared the tegu with 16 other species to better understand different morphological features and how they evolved. This one lizard has paved a way for so many findings and discoveries. I believe that learning the genomic sequence of the tegu lizard is really going to open doors on reptile research and evolution, which is something we know little about.