World’s oldest DNA reveals how mammoths evolved and adapted to different climates

The ability to sequence increasingly ancient DNA samples could open door to further evolutionary discoveries, writes Harry Cockburn

Wednesday 17 February 2021 18:51
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Reconstruction of the steppe mammoths that preceded the woolly mammoth, based on new genetic knowledge from the Adycha mammoth
Reconstruction of the steppe mammoths that preceded the woolly mammoth, based on new genetic knowledge from the Adycha mammoth
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cientists have sequenced what is thought to be the world’s oldest DNA samples, taken from the ancient steppe mammoth, revealing new information about how later species of mammoth evolved and adapted to different climates.

An international team led by researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm sequenced DNA recovered from mammoth remains up to 1.2 million years old.

The analyses found the Columbian mammoth species, which inhabited North America during the last ice age, was a hybrid between the woolly mammoth and a previously unknown genetic lineage of mammoth.

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