Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More on Mammoth DNA

Added Later: Sorry for the weird formatting. I have been experimenting with posting via email.

National Geographic News has a story on mammoth DNA:
"The DNA revealed that woolly mammoths had more genetic similarities to modern Asian elephants than to the African species, though not by much, Hofreiter's team reports.

The DNA also showed that elephant species split from each other more quickly than had been thought.

Modern elephants and woolly mammoths share a common ancestor that split into separate species about 6 million years ago, the study reports.

At that time African elephants branched off first. Then just 440,000 years later, a blink of an eye in evolutionary time, Asian elephants and mammoths diverged into their own separate species."

One of the implications of the study:

Geneticists may now be able to put those samples to better use.

"Using the knowledge we've gained, this technology can be used quite widely on ancient DNA to resolve the [evolutionary histories] of both extinct and extant species," Hofreiter said.

"We may even be able to conduct population studies using ancient mitochondrial DNA. There will be some things to resolve and maybe some interesting surprises as well."

I'm looking forward to this later, sounds intriguing!