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Gene Reveals Mammoth Coat Colour
BBC ^ | 7-6-2006 | Rebecca Morelle

Posted on 07/06/2006 12:43:11 PM PDT by blam

Gene reveals mammoth coat colour

By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

Woolly mammoths had both dark and light coats

The coat colour of mammoths that roamed the Earth thousands of years ago has been determined by scientists.

Some of the curly tusked animals would have sported dark brown coats, while others had pale ginger or blond hair.

The information was extracted from a 43,000-year-old woolly mammoth bone from Siberia using the latest genetic techniques.

Writing in the journal Science, the researchers said a gene called Mc1r was controlling the beasts' coat colours.

This gene is responsible for hair-colour in some modern mammals, too.

In humans, reduced activity of the Mc1r gene causes red hair, while in dogs, mice and horses it results in yellow hair.

Blond ambition

Using ancient DNA extracted from the excavated mammoth bone, the international team of researchers were able to look at the variations in copies of the Mc1r gene.

Dr Michael Hofreiter, an author on the paper and an evolutionary biologist from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, said analysis revealed two different versions of the gene were present - a fully active and a partially active version.

The researchers propose that hair coloration in mammoths is likely to have been determined in the same way as in present-day mammals.

This means that mammoths with one copy of the active gene and one of the partially active gene would have had dark coats - most likely dark brown or black.

While mammoths with two copies of the inactive gene would have had paler coats - possibly blond or ginger.

Light-coloured fur camouflages mice on the beaches of Florida

The scientists said they were unsure why different-coloured mammoths existed.

Other research published in the same journal found that beach mice, whose coat colour is also controlled by the Mc1r gene, have varying colours for survival reasons.

The researchers said Florida beach mice were lighter than their mainland cousins because their pale fur helped them to hide from predators in their sand-dune habitat.

But Dr Hofreiter said it was unlikely that mammoths had varied coats for camouflage.

He said: "They were very big - so even a blond mammoth would have been easy to spot."

Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) were common about 50,000 years ago, during the late Pleistocene epoch.

They were about the size of an Indian elephant, but with shaggy woolly coats and tusks measuring over 4m long.

They are thought to have died out about 4,500 years ago.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: catastrophism; coat; colour; dna; gene; godsgravesglyphs; mammoth; mammoths; mammothtoldme; mastodon; mastodons; reveals

1 posted on 07/06/2006 12:43:14 PM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping?


2 posted on 07/06/2006 12:43:44 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
They are thought to have died out about 4,500 years ago.

Bush's fault...

3 posted on 07/06/2006 12:54:49 PM PDT by Onelifetogive (Freerepublic - The website where "Freepers" is not in the spell checker dictionary...)
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Woolly mammoths had both dark and light coats

4 posted on 07/06/2006 12:57:19 PM PDT by evets (huh?)
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To: blam

From what size predator, would a wooly mammoth have needed to evolve an ability to hide?


5 posted on 07/06/2006 1:02:37 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: patton

I think early man hunted them, IIRC.


6 posted on 07/06/2006 1:08:22 PM PDT by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: patton
From what size predator, would a wooly mammoth have needed to evolve an ability to hide?

From that largest and most voracious of all predators, global cooling. Those with the lighter fur did better at the glacier edge while the darker furred animals roamed in warmer climes. /total conjecture

7 posted on 07/06/2006 1:17:06 PM PDT by NonValueAdded ("I'm all in favor of a dignified retirement: Why not try it on Kerry as a pilot program?" M. Steyn)
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To: patton
Ebola's on the small side...

Then there are the animals that attack in packs. Get inside, and under the 12ft+ tusks, and it was probably
vulnerable, especially from *all* sides. I'm thinking hyenas, coyotes, etc.

8 posted on 07/06/2006 1:18:08 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: NonValueAdded

Actually, you amy be onto something. It is no accident that the color of one's skin is inversely proportional to the distance one's ancestors lived from the equator.


9 posted on 07/06/2006 1:19:11 PM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: patton

"From what size predator, would a wooly mammoth have needed to evolve an ability to hide?

"

Uh, humans and dire wolves and saber-toothed tigers, perhaps. Humans were the most dangerous predator of the wooly mammoth, though.


10 posted on 07/06/2006 1:19:45 PM PDT by MineralMan (non-evangelical atheist)
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To: blam

Did the light furred ones have to contend with affirmative action programs designed to aid the dark furred?


11 posted on 07/06/2006 1:34:38 PM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: lesser_satan
I think those savage natives, unfamiliar with conservation practices, killed them all off. Selfish materialistic natives!

/sarcasm off

12 posted on 07/06/2006 1:36:09 PM PDT by mallardx
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To: mallardx

Just looking up predators on mammoths on Google, I found an interesting thing. Apparently, there was a report in Siberia in 1918 of a hunter seeing a wooly mammoth. Sounds far-fetched, but Siberia's very large, and was very sparsely populated in 1918. I suppose it could have happened.

These days, it's unlikely that any such isolated mammoth could still survive, given our satellite mapping. But...you just never know. They've only been extinct, supposedly, for a few thousand years now.

Wouldn't that be a treat?


13 posted on 07/06/2006 1:57:07 PM PDT by MineralMan (non-evangelical atheist)
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To: MineralMan

They had cave lions 3 times the size of African lions back then. Some pretty big bears, too.


14 posted on 07/06/2006 2:14:13 PM PDT by Defiant (MSM are holding us hostage. Vote Dems into power, or they will let the terrorists win.)
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To: MineralMan

That would be the most amazing biological find of the century. That, or sasquatch/yeti.


15 posted on 07/06/2006 2:21:07 PM PDT by mallardx
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To: blam

Wasn't this already known from the frozen carcasses that have been found?


16 posted on 07/06/2006 2:21:51 PM PDT by SampleMan
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To: Defiant
They had cave lions 3 times the size of African lions back then.

Interesting - were these direct ancestors of today's lions or, like saber-toothed "tigers", were they more distantly related members of the cat family that happen to share a name with the modern version?

I'm still not clear on why land mammal sizes seem to have shrunk (cave bear, dire wolf, giant sloth, Imperial mammoth, Baluchitherium to more modest sizes today).
17 posted on 07/06/2006 2:24:24 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
They were real lions, they just got bigger in the northern grasslands, where huge wooley rhinos, mammoths and humongous deer grew big on the abundance of food, and that in turn led to larger predators.

There were lions in Europe into Roman times. In Alexander the Great's time, they used to hunt them. They weren't the huge kind any more, though.

18 posted on 07/06/2006 2:52:41 PM PDT by Defiant (MSM are holding us hostage. Vote Dems into power, or they will let the terrorists win.)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
I'm still not clear on why land mammal sizes seem to have shrunk (cave bear, dire wolf, giant sloth, Imperial mammoth, Baluchitherium to more modest sizes today).

Because we nasty humans killed them off.

19 posted on 07/06/2006 3:06:46 PM PDT by Doodle
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To: blam
GGG Ping?
Definitely, because I can use that joke again...
20 posted on 07/06/2006 8:29:17 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Defiant; blam

Short-faced Bear, largest that ever lived, I wonder if the mammoth was on the menu?

http://www.nature.ca/notebooks/english/shrtbear.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/3011.shtml

This link shows a size comparison with grizzly and polar:

http://www.tarpits.org/education/guide/flora/bear.html


21 posted on 07/06/2006 8:33:59 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek

Cave Lion (and cave bear, among other things):

http://archserve.id.ucsb.edu/Anth3/Courseware/Pleistocene/6_Bestiary.html#Cave_Lion


22 posted on 07/06/2006 8:37:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; ...
Thanks Blam.

Mammoth told me there'd be days like these. [rimshot!]

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

23 posted on 07/06/2006 10:09:08 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: 75thOVI; AndrewC; Avoiding_Sulla; BenLurkin; Berosus; CGVet58; chilepepper; ckilmer; demlosers; ...
Catastrophism

24 posted on 07/06/2006 10:10:57 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam

An Inconvenient Truth: about the Ice Age.


25 posted on 07/06/2006 10:11:18 PM PDT by miliantnutcase
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To: SunkenCiv
Didn't the frozen mammoth found at Berezovka in 1901 have red hair?

Then of course, there's Mr. Snuffleupagus.

By the way, last year I also heard that Siberia once had giant hyenas, and they might have kept people out until they domesticated dogs.

26 posted on 07/07/2006 2:30:17 AM PDT by Berosus ("There is no beauty like Jerusalem, no wealth like Rome, no depravity like Arabia."--the Talmud)
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To: patton
It is no accident that the color of one's skin is inversely proportional to the distance one's ancestors lived from the equator.


27 posted on 07/07/2006 2:42:24 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: MineralMan

You know, I have alot of trouble with the human predation of mammals stuff, and here's why.

We all know that the American indians hunted the buffalo. And we hear the stories about the indians being very economical and using every piece of the buffalo they could get. These legends have been elevated to an almost holy status.

But estimates tell us that during what they think was the peak, over SIXTY MILLION BUFFALO roamed the plains. And the indians, no matter what they could do, would hardly be able to make the slightest dent in the buffalo herds, no matter what they tried.

The buffalo were not threatened until two things arrived in North America.

Horses and firearms.


So no doubt early man hunted mammoth. But I'm inclinedto think that coming home with a mammoth on the hood of their car was a pretty darn rare event.


28 posted on 07/07/2006 2:54:45 AM PDT by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic. Same thing, I guess...)
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To: AndrewC

There is an exception to every rule.


29 posted on 07/07/2006 6:27:52 AM PDT by patton (LGOPs = head toward the noise, kill anyone not dressed like you.)
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To: AndrewC

Wow. Tatooed Lederhosen.


30 posted on 07/07/2006 6:56:34 AM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: AndrewC

I had never heard of the selknam, so looked them up. The articles on the Inet say that they lived pretty far away from the Equator.


31 posted on 07/07/2006 6:59:09 AM PDT by dsc
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To: MineralMan
There is another instance of a mammoth being reported. In the 1800's a sketch artist/painter was traveling through the Rocky Mountains, saw and drew an elephant with long hair. He supposedly had never been to a carnival, or seen an elephant, and was considered an extremely reliable and believable person. I found a reference to this in a subsection of a Louis La'More (spelling?lol) book, researched it and found it to be a valid story. I would be very interested if anyone out there finds out anything more on this.

Wouldn't it be cool to be the archaeologist digging on a Native American campground and discover an ivory tusk in perfect condition? On that note, I have a friend that has a site on his property in Central Texas that has found ivory utensils, and they are barely calcified. He's also found parts of Spanish armor, and other oddities that don't belong anywhere around there.
32 posted on 07/07/2006 7:01:48 AM PDT by DavemeisterP (It's never too late to be what you might have been....George Elliot)
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To: DavemeisterP

"On that note, I have a friend that has a site on his property in Central Texas that has found ivory utensils, and they are barely calcified. He's also found parts of Spanish armor, and other oddities that don't belong anywhere around there.
"



Ivory objects aren't that scarce. It was a popular material and widely traded among native american tribes. As for the Spanish armor, you may recall that the Spanish were in Texas, so that, too, isn't all that unusual.

Both are quite valuable, though. You might suggest eBay to your friend.


33 posted on 07/07/2006 7:07:10 AM PDT by MineralMan (non-evangelical atheist)
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To: Berosus

Red hair, pink hair, blue hair -- any time you start seeing large, hairy elephants in holes in the ground, it's time to knock off the vodka. ;')


34 posted on 07/07/2006 7:07:57 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: mallardx
That would be the most amazing biological find of the century. That, or sasquatch/yeti.

That or maybe Algore's personality.

35 posted on 07/07/2006 7:12:20 AM PDT by P8riot ("You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." - Al Capone)
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To: patton

"the color of one's skin is inversely proportional to the distance...from the equator."

Your right, it is no accident. Vitamin D is created in the oils on the skin and absorbed into the body where it is essential for bone formation, and perhaps antidepressive effects. Women deficient in Vitamin E form norrow pelvic girdles, which make childbirth difficult. A person suffering from Rickets (Vitamin D deficiency) will have thick wrists and a bulging skull. Thus the entusiasm for blond women and graceful wrists. This mutation away from the heavy melanism of the tropics probably made it possible for homo sapiens to migrate into ice age Europe, and sucessfully bear young.


36 posted on 07/10/2006 12:00:01 AM PDT by gleeaikin
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To: MineralMan
"Wouldn't that be a treat?

It would be wonderful...which is why I only walk Fluffy at night.
37 posted on 07/11/2006 6:44:08 PM PDT by PoorMuttly (FREE MEXICO - Repatriate the Refugees)
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The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: Flood, Fire, and Famine in the History of Civilization The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes:
Flood, Fire, and Famine
in the History of Civilization

by Richard Firestone,
Allen West, and
Simon Warwick-Smith


38 posted on 03/18/2008 10:26:50 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/______________________Profile updated Saturday, March 1, 2008)
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39 posted on 03/18/2008 10:27:18 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/______________________Profile updated Saturday, March 1, 2008)
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