Coffee Processing Civet Family Splits in Three

asian palm civet photo

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

No one likes to see a family pulled apart, but in this case the result is two new species: Scientists studying the genome of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus have decided that, in fact, the Asian palm civet is three distinct species.The civet, which is famous for its coffee processing abilities, is believed to have evolved differently in northeastern India; Southeast Asia, including Indonesia; and parts of Borneo and the Philippines. Though civets in these three areas were once thought to be the same, they are in fact different—a finding that will help conservationists and wildlife managers in the future.

The civet is an integral part of producing Kopi Luwak, the world's most expensive coffee. Berries from coffee plants are fed to the civets, which digest the fruit and pass the hard beans adding enzymes that lead to a smooth cup of coffee in the process.

A single cup of Kopi Luwak can cost $100 in some parts of the world.

Read more about new species:
Incredible New Species Discovered in Ecuador
94 New Species Described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2009
Birdfeeders Found to Cause Evolution of New Species

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