Mammoth Findings: Asian elephant is closest living kin | Science News


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Mammoth Findings: Asian elephant is closest living kin

10:30am, December 20, 2005

A study of a woolly mammoth that died in Siberia several millennia ago has yielded the complete DNA sequence of the creature's mitochondria, the energy factories of the animal's cells. Comparison with the mitochondrial genomes of living elephants indicates that the mammoth is slightly more closely related to the Asian elephant than to the African elephant.

Fossil evidence had suggested that woolly mammoths and the living species of elephants descended from a common ancestor that lived in Africa about 6 million years ago, but the relationship among the three species remained unclear, says Michael Hofreiter, a paleontologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Most anatomic

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