Various populations of rhesus macaque are kept in captivity due to their importance as a model organism correlate to human. Some examples of their critical contributions are in the fields of neuroscience, behavioral biology, reproductive physiology, endocrinology, cardiovascular studies and pharmacology. Large males may reach 60 cm in length, yet males and females may differ in weight, body size and canine size. Hair coloration variation among rhesus macaque includes gray, brown or black fur. A typical rhesus macaque has a naked face with a tail about half as long as it's body and is capable of a great variety of facial expressions and communication vocals. These communication complexities displayed within social groups of 25-60 individuals suggest a high degree of intelligence.
Rhesus macaque, Macaca mulatta, lives in a wide range of habitats, and shows a great deal of adaptability. Populations of rhesus macaque are most commonly found in western Afghanistan, through India to northern Thailand. This species formerly was abundant in southern China and Tibet before humans led to the dwindling of macaque populations in these areas over the last sixty years. As well as living in the wilderness, some populations of rhesus macaque have become accustomed to living alongside humans.
The Macaca mulatta species was sequenced in collaboration with the Baylor University College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center (BCM-HGSC) and J. Craig Venter Institute Joint Technology Center. A total of 6x whole genome coverage was produced from the genome of a female and will serve as the rhesus macaque reference genome. The sequencing method combined whole genome shotgun plasmid, fosmid and BAC end sequences. The WUGSC, BCM-HGSC and Venter Institute will jointly produce a rhesus macaque draft sequence assembly. This preliminary sequence assembly will be released to the public, following an internal quality review. During production sequencing, a fingerprint map was developed by the British Columbia Genome Sciences Centre with a target of 10X clone coverage. Funding for the sequence characterization of the rhesus macaque genome is being provided by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).