Analysis of hair from several ancient mammoths suggests that even tiny samples that are tens of thousands of years old can contain enough genetic material to allow reconstruction of portions of the animal's genome. The new findings hint that museum collections could be untapped troves of genetic treasure.
The largest part of a creature's genome appears in a cell's nucleus and includes DNA from both parents. A smaller amount of genetic material appears in mitochondria, the energy factories of the cells, which are passed down only from the animal's mother, says Stephan C. Schuster, a genomicist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. A cell typically ha