Wednesday, February 08, 2006
"Scientists have completed the oldest mitochondrial genome sequence from the 33,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth; results show mammoths and Asian elephants are a sister species that diverged soon after their common ancestor split from the lineage of the African elephant.
Some 10,000 years after the last of their kind wandered the North American and Eurasian wilderness, woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) remain a fascinating subject of study for scientists, with implications for understanding the evolutionary origins of present day mammals. Mammoths and elephants belong to one of the most ancient mammalian groups and various recent studies have debated the genetic relationships between them. Now, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences have weighed in on the issue, with results supported by the oldest mitochondrial genome sequence determined to date from the remains of a mammoth that died approximately 33,000 years ago."