Wooly Mammoth Genome Has Been Sequenced

This sounds like something out of a movie, but it is real. Scientists have announced that they have fully sequenced the entire genome of a wooly mammoth. A team of international scientists sequenced the genome in an attempt to help determine why these massive creatures died out.

According to scientists, the last of the population died off on an Arctic island called Wrangel off the coast of Russia about 4,000 years ago. That would be 6,000 years after the relatives disappeared from mainland Siberia. The team of scientists on the project compared the DNA from a pair of woolly mammoths that were discovered frozen in permafrost.

One of the specimens was a juvenile male that lived in Siberia about 44,800 years ago and the other was a male from the Wrangel Island that lived about 4,300 years ago. The team says that you can glean many details about an entire population form a single specimen.

The team found that the mammoths living on Wrangel Island had such a small population that they had become inbred. The team hoped to find out if genetic factors could have been responsible for the extinction of the animals. However, the researchers say that lack of genetic diversification in the Wrangel population doesn't mean genetics caused the mammoth to die out. The team plans to continue studying the animals to see what sets the wooly mammoth apart from modern elephants.

SOURCE: Time