Using an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometer, bio-archaeologists were able to produce a near complete collagen sequence for the West Runton Elephant, a Steppe Mammoth skeleton which was discovered in cliffs in Norfolk in 1990. The remarkable 85 per cent complete skeleton – the most complete example of its species ever found in the world - is preserved by Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service in Norwich.
Bio-archaeologist Professor Matthew Collins, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology, said: “The time depth is absolutely remarkable. Until several years ago we did not believe we would find any collagen in a skeleton of this age, even if it was as well-preserved as the West Runton Elephant.
“We believe protein lasts in a useful form ten times as long as DNA which is normally only useful in discoveries of up to 100,000 years old in Northern Europe. The implications are that we can use collagen sequencing to look at very old extinct animals. It also means we can look through old sites and identify remains from tiny fragments of bone.”
Dr Mike Buckley, from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, said: “What is truly fascinating is that this fundamentally important protein, which is one of the most abundant proteins in most (vertebrate) animals, is an ideal target for obtaining long lost genetic information."
The collagen sequencing was carried out at the Centre for Excellence in Mass Spectrometry at the University of York and is arguably the oldest protein ever sequenced; short peptides (chains of amino acids) have controversially been reported from dinosaur fossils.
The research formed part of a study into the sequencing of mammoths and mastodons, which is published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. The West Runton Elephant was compared with other mammoths, modern elephants and mastodons. Despite the age of the fossil, sufficient peptides were obtained to identify the West Runton skeleton as elephantid, and there was sufficient sequence variation to discriminate elephantid and mammutid collagen.
Nigel Larkin, co-author and Research Associate with Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, said: “The West Runton Elephant is unusual in that it is a nearly complete skeleton. At the time this animal was alive, before the Ice Ages, spotted hyenas much larger than those in Africa today were scavenging most carcases and devouring the bones as well as meat. That means most fossils found from this time period are individual bones or fragments of bone, making them difficult to identify. In the future, collagen sequencing might help us to determine the species represented by even smallest scraps of bone.
“Therefore this research has important implications for bones and bone fragments in all archaeological and palaeontological collections in museums and archaeology units around the world, not just those of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service in Norwich.”Notes to editors:
For more information on the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk
Caron Lett | EurekAlert!
Developing a digital holography-based multimodal imaging system to visualize living cells
03.06.2020 | Kobe University
Possible physical trace of short-term memory found
03.06.2020 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria
An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...
Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.
Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...
In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".
Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...
Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...
Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.
When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...
19.05.2020 | Event News
07.04.2020 | Event News
06.04.2020 | Event News
03.06.2020 | Medical Engineering
03.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy
03.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy