2009 December 14 Monday
7600 Year Old Woolly Mammoth DNA Found In Tundra?

10000 to 7600 year old woolly mammoth DNA was found frozen in Alaskan tundra. So this raises the obvious question: Is the DNA good enough to sequence and use some day to bring back the woolly mammoth?

The work of U of A Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor Duane Froese and his colleagues counters an important extinction theory, based on radiocarbon dating of bones and teeth. That analysis concluded that more than half of the large mammals in North America (the 'megafauna') disappeared about 13,000 years ago.

In the new research, DNA samples recovered from Alaskan permafrost showed that woolly mammoths and ancient horses were still roaming through central Alaska about 10,000 years ago, and possibly as recently as 7600 years ago. That predates the established record from fossil bones and teeth by at least 3,000 years.

The DNA samples were recovered from permafrost near the central Alaskan community of Stevens Village, on the banks of the Yukon River. Analysis of the samples from soils that formed between 10,000 and 7600 years ago showed the presence of mammoth and horse DNA together with animals typically found in the region today, such as moose and arctic hare.

I'm picturing the Holocene Park - kinda like the Jurassic Park but with animals from our more recent past. Saber tooth tigers anyone? Also, right before the Holocene came the Pleistocene epoch. Surely some critters from that era are frozen in the tundra too.

Which extinct species would you most like to bring back? I'm thinking Neandertals.

By Randall Parker    2009 December 14 10:27 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
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