Scientists Map Woolly Mammoth Genomes, Which Could Help Bring Species Back To Life
Scientists may be one step closer to bringing the woolly mammoth back to life.
In a new study, an international team of researchers has sequenced the genomes of two Siberian woolly mammoths — revealing the most complete genetic blueprint of the prehistoric beast yet.
“This discovery means that recreating extinct species is a much more real possibility, one we could in theory realize within decades,” study co-author Dr. Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Canada, said in a written statement. “With a complete genome and this kind of data, we can now begin to understand what made a mammoth a mammoth — when compared to an elephant — and some of the underlying causes of their extinction which is an exceptionally difficult and complex puzzle to solve.”
(Story continues below photo.)
Mammoth remains found on Wrangel Island in Russia that were used in the study.
For the study, the researchers analyzed bits and pieces of highly fragmented DNA from the specimens of two male mammoths — one of which lived in northeastern Siberia nearly 45,000 years ago, and the other around 4,300 years ago on Russia’s Wrangel Island, located in the Arctic Ocean.
Clues to cloning. The researchers used the DNA fragments to sequence the mammoth genomes, and then compared them to the genome of a modern African savanna elephant (a relative of the mammoth) to identify key genetic differences between the two species, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“This basically gives you the changes that account for a mammoth being a mammoth — the changes that allowed them to have hair, tremendous amounts of fat, large tusks,” Poinar told CBS News. “This then gives us this roadmap, so to speak, of what we would need to change in an Asian elephant chromosome to —> Read More