Complete genomes of extinct and living elephants sequenced [sciencedaily.com]
An international team of researchers has produced one of the most comprehensive evolutionary pictures to date by looking at one of the world's most iconic animal families -- namely elephants, and their relatives mammoths and mastodons-spanning millions of years.
The team of scientists-which included researchers from McMaster, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, Uppsala University, and the University of Potsdam-meticulously sequenced 14 genomes from several species: both living and extinct species from Asia and Africa, two American mastodons, a 120,000-year-old straight-tusked elephant, and a Columbian mammoth.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, sheds light on what scientists call a very complicated history, characterized by widespread interbreeding. They caution, however, the behaviour has virtually stopped among living elephants, adding to growing fears about the future of the few species that remain on earth.
A comprehensive genomic history of extinct and living elephants [pnas.org] (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720554115) (DX [doi.org])