IBE (CSIC-UPF): A genetic study sheds light on the diversity and evolution of mammoths

IBE (CSIC-UPF): A genetic study sheds light on the diversity and evolution of mammoths

News from IBE (CSIC-UPF)

This study includes the mitochondrial genomes of 54 mammoth fossils that have been sequenced for the first tie. This has allowed to increase the number of specimens coming from Europe, since until now there were none of this zone. Among the new specimens, stand out the two most western mammoths never analyzed. These mammoths come from the Aldehuela site in Getafe, and their DNA has been extracted from fossils preserved in the Museum of Origins in Madrid.

Thanks to the analysis of the 143 mitochondrial genomes, all the mammoths of that period have been divided into three great lineages. "Up until now we have detected three differentiated populations, one of them in continental Europe", explains Lalueza-Fox, a researcher at the IBE (CSIC-UPF). Thus, this study allows to obtain a more complete picture of global genetic diversity and the evolution of mammoths.

The results of the study suggest that male mammoths were the ones who left the group to go and look for partners in the other herds. As is currently the case with elephants, this means that the females remained in the group where they were born. "This fact would explain why mitochondrial DNA, which is exclusively transferred through the maternal route, is very geographically structured in these fossils," concludes Lalueza-Fox.

More information:
IBE website

Reference Article:
Chang, D .; Knapp, M .; Enk, J .; Et al. 2017. The evolutionary and phylogeographic history of woolly mammoths: a comprehensive mitogenomic analysis. Scientific Reports