Wooly Mammoth Genome

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Introduction

The Wooly Mammoth (Mammuthus Primigenius) was sequenced by the Mammoth Genome Project of Pennsylvania State University. They released the genome sequence to several online database query forms.

Access the Datasets

Background

Lessons from the mammoth genome

The Mammoth Genome Project is the first to decipher the genome of an extinct animal. The data allow a view back in time as far as 60,000 years and describe the genetic changes that occurred in mammoths. Analyses show that the rate of evolution within the three lineages of elephants (mammoth, Indian elephant and African elephant) since they separated about 6 million years ago is only half of that between humans and chimpanzees. The study also identified changes in proteins that occurred only in mammoths, but not in any of the other 50 mammalian genomes sequenced so far. Since proteins are a main contributor to an animal's physical traits, it is possible that these differences helped mammoths to survive in their harsh environment.

Biology of extinction

The broader implications of the research involve studying genomes of extinct animals and asking specific questions about their life styles. In general, the work shows that it is possible to open a window to the past and study animals that are long gone at the same level of genetic detail as when examining modern species. The lessons being learned from studying extinct species can help us to understand the processes that are driving today's endangered species toward possible extinction.

The Center for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics

The Mammoth Genome Project is being conducted at the Center for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics at the Pennsylvania State University. The team has already completed a first phase of the project, where the genome was read at single-fold coverage. We are currently working on a high-resolution sequence of the genome, which has more than 4 billion base pairs.

Further Information

Mammoth Genome Project of Pennsylvania State University