Mammoth DNA Extracted from Hair

Posted on October 4, 2007  Comments (0)

Mammoth DNA extracted from hair reveals ancient secrets

The woolly mammoth hair had been so well preserved that it provided the most accurate DNA sequencing of the extinct animals yet achieved. One of the animals used in the study dated back 50,000 years and its hairs allowed scientists to obtain the oldest complete sequence of mitochondrial DNA.

Three mammoths had been subjected previously to DNA sequencing, two with bone fragments and the third with a sample of muscle tissue.

Results from hair assessed using the sequencing-by-synthesis (SBS) technique were more detailed than bone and muscle samples. Importantly, said researchers, the SBS extraction technique required smaller quantities of ancient material and caused less damage to the preserved specimens.

Mammoths roamed the landscape for about six million years and their disappearance about 10,000 years ago – with a handful of dwarf mammoths surviving on remote Siberian islands until little more than 2,000 years ago – has remained a mystery.

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