Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA shows that last woolly mammoths had North American roots

08.09.2008
In a surprising reversal of conventional wisdom, a DNA-based study has revealed that the last of the woolly mammoths—which lived between 40,000 and 4,000 years ago—had roots that were exclusively North American.

The research, which appears in the September issue of Current Biology, is expected to cause some controversy within the paleontological community.

"Scientists have always thought that because mammoths roamed such a huge territory—from Western Europe to Central North America—that North American woolly mammoths were a sideshow of no particular significance to the evolution of the species," said Hendrik Poinar, associate professor in the departments of Anthropology, and Pathology & Molecular Medicine at McMaster University.

Poinar and Régis Debruyne, a postdoctoral research fellow in Poinar's lab, spent the last three years collecting and sampling mammoths over much of their former range in Siberia and North America, extracting DNA and meticulously piecing together, comparing and overlapping hundreds of mammoth specimen using the second largest ancient DNA dataset available.

... more about:
»DNA »Poinar »SIBERIA »mammoth »woolly mammoth

"Migrations over Beringia [the land bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait] were rare; it served as a filter to keep eastern and western groups or populations of woollies apart, says Poinar. "However, it now appears that mammoths established themselves in North America much earlier than presumed, then migrated back to Siberia, and eventually replaced all pre-existing haplotypes of mammoths."

"Small-scale population replacements, as we call them, are not a rare phenomenon within species, but ones occurring on a continental scale certainly are," says Ross MacPhee, curator of mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History, and one of the researchers on the study. "We never expected that there might have been a complete overturn in woolly mammoths, but this is the sort of discoveries that are being made using ancient DNA. Bones and teeth are not always sensitive guides."

"Like paleontologists, molecular biologists have long been operating under a geographic bias," says Debruyne. "For more than a century, any discussion on the woolly mammoth has primarily focused on the well-studied Eurasian mammoths. Little attention was dedicated to the North American samples, and it was generally assumed their contribution to the evolutionary history of the species was negligible. This study certainly proves otherwise."

The origin of mammoths is controversial in itself. Some scientists believe that the first proto-mammoths arose in Africa about seven-million years ago in concert with ancestors of the Asian elephant. Around five to six million years ago, an early mammoth species migrated north into China, Siberia and, eventually, North America. This early dispersal into North America gave rise to a new mammoth known as the Columbian mammoth. Much later, back in Siberia, a cold-adapted form—the woolly mammoth—evolved and eventually crossed over the Beringian land bridge into present-day Alaska and the Yukon.

What happened next, says Poinar, is a mystery: The Siberian genetic forms began to disappear and were replaced by North American migrants.

"The study of evolution is an evolution in itself," says Poinar. "This latest research shows we're drilling down and getting a closer and better understanding of the origins of life on our planet."

Jane Christmas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcmaster.ca

Further reports about: DNA Poinar SIBERIA mammoth woolly mammoth

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>