Skip to comments.Researchers solve mammoth evolutionary puzzle: The woollies weren't picky, happy to interbreed
Posted on 05/30/2011 5:45:00 PM PDT by decimon
A DNA-based study sheds new light on the complex evolutionary history of the woolly mammoth, suggesting it mated with a completely different and much larger species.
The research, which appears in the BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology, found the woolly mammoth, which lived in the cold climate of the Arctic tundra, interbred with the Columbian mammoth, which preferred the more temperate regions of North America and was some 25 per cent larger.
"There is a real fascination with the history of mammoths, and this analysis helps to contextualize its evolution, migration and ecology" says Hendrik Poinar, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in the departments of Anthropology and Biology at McMaster University.
Poinar and his team at the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre, along with colleagues from the United States and France, meticulously sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of two Columbian mammoths, one found in the Huntington Reservoir in Utah, the other found near Rawlins, Wyoming. They compared these to the first complete mitochrondrial genome of an endemic North American woolly mammoth.
"We are talking about two very physically different 'species' here. When glacial times got nasty, it was likely that woollies moved to more pleasant conditions of the south, where they came into contact with the Columbians at some point in their evolutionary history," he says. "You have roughly 1-million years of separation between the two, with the Columbian mammoth likely derived from an early migration into North American approximately 1.5-million years ago, and their woolly counterparts emigrating to North America some 400,000 years ago."
"We think we may be looking at a genetic hybrid," says Jacob Enk, a graduate student in the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre. "Living African elephant species hybridize where their ranges overlap, with the bigger species out-competing the smaller for mates. This results in mitochondrial genomes from the smaller species showing up in populations of the larger. Since woollies and Columbians overlapped in time and space, it's not unlikely that they engaged in similar behaviour and left a similar signal."
The samples used for the analyses date back approximately 12,000 years. All mammoths became extinct approximately 10,000 years ago except for small isolated populations on islands off the coast of Siberia and Alaska.
Funding for this study was provided by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Research Chairs program.
An illustrated figure of the Columbian mammoth and the woolly mammoth can be found at: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/images/columbianandwooly.jpg
After the embargo is lifted, a copy of the paper can be found at: http://genomebiology.com
McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.
For more information, please contact:
Michelle Donovan Public Relations Manager McMaster University 905-525-9140, ext. 22869 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wade Hemsworth Public Relations Manager McMaster University 905-525-9140, ext. 27988 email@example.com
Pulling the wool ping.
Larger? And, sure, species interbreed all the time. (E.g. Muslims and goats) What was this guy smoking?
Giamo Casanunda, please call the office!
What’s that great line from Ice Age II, Meltdown? “You aint go’in to save the species tonight or any night.”
Feh, I’m just glad they’re gone. We would have to go back to 4-bore rifles
Questions are popping up about how they did it ~ so undoubtedly SOMEBODY had to stand on a tree trunk!
They were both Mammoths so they were not different species, they were variations of the same species.
Or, of course, one of them could stand partway in a hole in the ground: http://being.publicradio.org/programs/whalesongs/images/ss_kneeling.jpg
The big question for Evolution is how does one species give rise to another species. And central to that is "what is a species?" A poodle can breed with a labrador -- no big deal, they are the same species. A poodle with a persian cat? Much more challenging.
But evolutionists like to change their thinking based on what is convenient. A mammoth breeding with a completely different species? [shrug] Sure. Why not? [/s]
I don’t the smaller mammoths had much choice in the matter as to whether they wanted to interbreed with the bigger ones.
Well there was a rumor going around the circus that the dwarf and the elephant were lovers. (Tim Conway)
In Randolph the guy lived there. The woman had clearly moved out and had, in fact, GONE TO CANADA.
If you want to apply this case to the situation in Indiana note that the woman lived there and the guy had got his stuff and moved out!
The USSC ruled in favor of the occupant who lived there ALONE ~ as would they rule in favor of the woman in this case because she lived there ALONE.
The Woolies weren’t Picky, happy to interbreed.
So was Obama’s Mama.
Extinct Woolly Mammoth May Be Resurrected by Scientists
So was Obamas Mama.
Obama's mama interbred with what?
But without being able to tell if they did breed or not (and whether the offspring were fertile), scientists can only guess whether they were different species or just subspecies. Sure a poodle and a persian cat are different species, but could a scientist tell whether a poodle and a wolf are different species with only a couple skeletal examples of each? And one might be laughed at for suggesting that a St. Bernhard and a Chihuahua are the same species just from looking at their skeletons.
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