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Elephant and Mammoth genomes sequenced, interbreeding rife

Discussion in 'Wildlife & Nature Conservation' started by Surroundx, 18 Sep 2016.

  1. Surroundx

    Surroundx Well-Known Member

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    Some excerpts:

    "Scientists had assumed from fossil evidence that an ancient predecessor called the straight-tusked elephant (Paleoloxodon antiquus), which lived in European forests until around 100,000 years ago, was a close relative of Asian elephants.

    In fact, this ancient species is most closely related to African forest elephants, a genetic analysis now reveals. Even more surprising, living forest elephants in the Congo Basin are closer kin to the extinct species than they are to today’s African savannah-dwellers. And, together with newly announced genomes from ancient mammoths, the analysis also reveals that many different elephant and mammoth species interbred in the past."

    ...

    "Love Dalén, a palaeogeneticist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, says that the study will force a reshuffle of the elephant family tree. “Basically Loxodonta is not valid as a genus name,” he says. He thinks that taxonomists may need to come up with new names for the different species, to better represent the relationship between savannah, forest and straight-tusked elephants."

    ...

    "The researchers found evidence that many of the different elephant and mammoth species had interbred. Straight-tusked elephants mated with both Asian elephants and woolly mammoths. And African savannah and forest elephants, who are known to interbreed today — hybrids of the two species live in some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere — also seem to have interbred in the distant past. Palkopoulou hopes to work out when these interbreeding episodes happened."

    Read more: Elephant history rewritten by ancient genomes : Nature News & Comment
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    that sounds fascinating - pity there isn't an actual paper to read.

    I'm not sure what the article means when it quotes someone saying "Basically Loxodonta is not valid as a genus name" - I can only assume they quoted him out of context. Loxodonta has priority over Palaeoloxodon by a hundred years, so perhaps he was saying that the two African elephant species should be put in different genera, but this doesn't seem at all necessary (if anything Palaeoloxodon would be sunk into Loxodonta).

    And then there's the bit where the article says "the researchers found evidence that many of the different elephant and mammoth species had interbred" but only gives three examples, one of which is that still known today between the two living African species. I'd like to know more about what the paper really says on that score.


    On a semi-related note, there was also this interesting elephant article on the side-line: Linnaeus's Asian elephant was wrong species : Nature News & Comment
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I found the abstract of the presentation (on Reddit):
     
  4. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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