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5/2/15 Cover

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Woolly mammoth DNA shows toll of low diversity

scientist with woolly mammoth tusk

Researchers extracted and analyzed DNA from ancient mammoth remains, like this tusk found by a river on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia, and found evidence of isolation and inbreeding just prior to the animal’s extinction.

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Even before woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) went extinct, signs of decline were written in their DNA, researchers report in the May 18 Current Biology.

The team sequenced genomes from a 44,800-year-old specimen from Siberia and a 4,300-year old specimen from Wrangel Island in Alaska, where the last known population of woolly mammoths lived out their days.

Differences between the sequences suggest that woolly mammoths hit two genetic bottlenecks: one in the middle Pleistocene around 285,000 years ago and one exclusively in the Wrangel Island population at the end of the last ice age (116,000 to 130,000 years ago). The Alaskan specimen also showed signs of low genetic diversity and inbreeding.

The researchers posit that such genetic deficits probably contributed to their subsequent demise. 

Microbes

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Psychology

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Genetics,, Science & Society

Gene in human embryos altered by Chinese researchers

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:29pm, April 23, 2015
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Genetics,, Animals,, Health

Mosquito bites might be foretold in genes

By Helen Thompson 2:20pm, April 22, 2015
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Animals,, Ecosystems

Only three wolves left on Michigan island

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 11:02am, April 22, 2015
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Quantum Physics,, Physics

Atomic clock will keep precise time for 15 billion years

By Andrew Grant 11:00am, April 21, 2015
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Chemistry,, Science & Society

Shipwrecked bubbly gives chemists a taste of the past

By Beth Mole 6:00am, April 21, 2015
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Technology

Smart card taps track clogs on London's Tube

By Ashley Yeager 5:33pm, April 20, 2015
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Neuroscience

Sky’s brilliant hues may help bodies keep time

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Toxicology

Low levels of lead linked to lower test scores in children

By Beth Mole 12:00pm, April 17, 2015
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