Hybrid Mammoth DNA Found

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Woolly and Columbian mammoths, two species of elephant that once lived in North America, may have interbred.Mitochondrial DNA analysis of a Columbian mammoth found in Utah suggests that its mitochondrial DNA was nearly identical to that of the woolly mammoth.

"We think this individual may have been a woolly-Columbian hybrid," said Jacob Enk of the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre, the group that led the research, which was recently published in Genome Biology.

"Living African elephant species interbreed where their ranges adjoin, with males of the bigger species out-competing the smaller for mates," he explained in a press release. The mitochondrial genomes in the smaller females then show up in populations of the larger species. "Since woolly and Columbian ranges periodically overlapped in time and space, it's likely that they engaged in similar behaviour and left a similar genetic signal," Enk said.

Modern examples of this can be seen where two varieties of elephant in Africa encounter each other. The larger savanna elephant and the smaller forest elephant are capable of interbreeding. Genetic evidence has fueled a debate that these two modern elephants are indeed separate species.

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


Post a Comment