Permafrosted Mammoth Teeth Yield World's Oldest DNA
The researchers may have discovered a new type of mammoth. And to think, all we needed was some molars.
Science & Tech
Scientists have sequenced the world's oldest DNA from a mammoth that lived in the Siberian steppe more than a million years ago. The previous record-holder for most ancient DNA was from a horse that lived between 560,000 and 780,000 years ago.
"This DNA is incredibly old. The samples are a thousand times older than Viking remains and even pre-date the existence of humans and Neanderthals," told CNN Love Dalen, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm.
The researchers investigated DNA from molars from three separate mammoths found in the Siberian permafrost in the 1970s. What they found was a potentially new type of mammoth species previously unknown to us.
"This came as a complete surprise to us. All previous studies have indicated that there was only one species of mammoth in Siberia at that point in time, called the steppe mammoth," told CNN study co-author Tom van der Valk, a postdoctoral researcher at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.