Woolly mammoth's DNA being sequenced

In Brief



Researchers say they have sequenced the chemical structure of about 1 percent of the genetic material of the woolly mammoth, an Ice Age cousin of today's elephants.

In the largest project to analyze the genetics of an extinct creature, scientists extracted DNA from remains found in permafrost. They identified the precise sequence of about 13 million chemical units within the mammoth's DNA, according to the study released today in the journal Science.

The researchers report that almost 99 percent of the DNA sequenced was identical to that of modern elephants. The genetic similarity will be used to understand the evolutionary process through which new species arise.

"We would like to do as much of the sequencing as we can, so we would have a complete genome for a woolly mammoth," said the study's co-leader, Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University.

The samples used in the study were from the Mammoth Museum, in an ice cave in the town of Khatanga in Russia's Taimyr Peninsula.

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