• Papio;
  • taxonomy;
  • population genetics;
  • isozymes;
  • methods


The use of common names which may encompass a number of subspecies or species is pervasive in the biomedical literature. Failure to identify the complete taxonomic classification of research subjects presents a source of error for scientists attempting to evaluate results or to repeat experiments. This paper examines the problem in a common animal model, the baboon. Analyses of the genetic distances among five baboon subspecies (Papio hamadryas anubis, P.h. cynocephalus, P.h. papio, P.h. ursinus, and P.h. hamadryas) based on blood marker information from nine polymorphic protein loci (ADA, APRT, C3, CA1, CA2, GPI, MPI, PEPB, and PGD) available for baboons resident at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research are presented. Statistical tests on the distances showed that significant genetic differences exist among the subspecies. A comparison of P.h. anubis and P.h. cynocephalus revealed that these two subspecies also differ significantly for biomedically relevant lipoprotein cholesterol levels, as can be predicted from the genetic distances. The results emphasize the pitfalls of using different types of baboons interchangeably in experimental protocols.