Wooly Mammoths have not roamed the world for some 10,000 years but this may not be the case for long. Scientists have long been trying to resurrect the mammoth and are coming closer to finding out how to do it
Vincent Lynch and his team at the University of Chicago have identified the genetic changes that allowed wooly mammoths to adapt to arctic environments. They first sequenced the entire genome of 2 wooly mammoths and 3 Asian elephants, the closest relative to the wooly mammoth. They then sequenced and compared the genome of African elephants, who are less closely related, to the mammoth and Asian elephant genome.
Using this method, the team identified 1.4 million genetic variants unique to mammoths. The variants were found in the proteins found in 1,600 genes. Of these genes, 26 were deactivated and one was duplicated.
They then ran multiple computational analyses of gene functions to determine the functions of variant genes. They found that most of the genes unique to mammoths and not living elephants were linked to fat regulation, development of fur, insulin signaling and temperature sensation. All of these genes would have been very important for animals living in very cold conditions.
Knowing how the genes are different in the mammoth from living elephants could be very important in bringing these giant animals back to life. Lynch says this study is the most compressive study of the genes that make a wooly mammoth what it is.
The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.