Scientists “resurrect” the mammoth genes

About 11 000 years on the planet went extinct last of the woolly mammoth. Of the many thousands of species were only those individuals who were able to survive in the harsh climate on the island, but they are unable to preserve their tiny population from extinction. It is known that dwarf the representatives of the largest mammals that lived off the coast of Siberia, died out about 4,000 years ago. Anyway, at the moment there are several basic hypotheses that can explain the death of the ancient animals. In order to prove at least one of them, the scientists were able to resurrect the genes of the recently discovered remnants of a mammoth.

Why the mammoths died out?

A mystery about the causes of extinction of the huge mammals that lived on our planet many thousands of years, is one of the most intriguing mysteries of our planet. The most common version is the hypothesis of sudden climate change since the peak of the extinction of mammoths, according to some estimates, coincides with the period of sharp warming. It is anticipated that this could cause reduced diet of the animals to which they did not have time to adapt. Due to the increase in humidity and waterlogging of the soil on the Wrangel island mammoths were difficult to navigate in order to get their food.

Another possible theory about the causes of death of the mammoth is the idea of the loss of their genetic diversity. So, due to the small habitat of mammoths (Wrangel island could not feed more than 300 individuals) at a certain point, the cases of inbreeding, which led to the loss of animals of the ability to reproduce as a result of different kinds of genetic mutations.

According to an article published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE), professionals have several reasons, which indicate the appearance of the mammoths several types of genetic defects. In order to confirm this theory, scientists conducted a study of the“resurrected“ genome of a mammoth, suggesting that mammoths could lose the ability to reproduce, along with the ability to smell.

The results of this study can provide evidence simultaneously and the first and second main hypotheses for the extinction of mammoths on Wrangel island, because scientists believe that due to the rapid decline in the population due to the decrease in the amount of produced food, the mammoths may have interbred with their extended family. This crossing has greatly reduced their genetic diversity, with the consequence that animals would lose the ability to “purify” the genome.