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DNA of Woolly Mammoth Fully Sequenced 175

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the jigsaw-puzzle-addicts-anonymous dept.
jd writes "Scientists have decoded the mitochondrial DNA of the Woolly Mammoth. According to the article: 'the Mammoth was most closely related to the Asian elephant rather than the African Elephant. The three groups split from a common ancestor about six million years ago, with Asian elephants and mammoths diverging about half a million years later.' This work is tied into efforts by researchers to use DNA to analyze other extinct species, such as the cave bear, the Haast eagle and the American lion. The novel aspect of this latest work is that it involved stitching together almost 50 fragments of mtDNA in order to obtain the sequence as a whole."

DNA of Woolly Mammoth Fully Sequenced

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  • Great... (Score:3, Funny)

    by }InFuZeD{ (52430) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:33AM (#14306434) Homepage
    It's always good to know that humans are second to mammoths in genetic research :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:34AM (#14306437)

    DNA? Evolution? Never happened! Mammoths were on the Ark with Noah!

    ---

    For the ID kooks out there who are probably speaking in tongues and convulsing on the floor after today's spanking in court I offer an interesting letter to the editor.

    Some don't need vaccine

    Recent news about the avian flu virus has raised concerns from main street to the White House. There is the possibility, even likelihood, that the virus will mutate into a form that can more easily infect humans.

    As the president pointed out, a vaccine cannot be made until this evolution occurs.

    This raises the concern that it may be impossible to create enough vaccine fast enough to protect all our citizens. But there is hope.

    Gallup polls tell us that up to 45 percent of Americans don't believe in evolution. Since random mutation is the engine of evolution, these same people must believe that the virus cannot mutate.

    Therefore, there is no need to waste vaccine on folks who believe there is no possible threat to themselves -- thus leaving a sufficient supply for the rest of us. Perhaps the president, given his doubts about evolution, may wish to demonstrate his leadership by foregoing vaccination.

    This approach has added benefits. Polls also tell us that disbelief in evolution is more pronounced among the less educated, the poor and conservatives. If the anti-evolutionists among these groups were to opt out of vaccination then, through immediate deaths and natural selection, we would reduce poverty, raise educational attainment and become a more progressive society.

    • A portion of the creationists (I use this henceforth to refer to everyone who beleives in some sort of ID nonsense) came up with "Micro" and "Macro" evolution to compensate for this. According to those who beleive it (It's hard to tie it into Creationism itself, because I dont think even two different Creationists agree on what happened), evolution DOES happen on a very small scale, like changing charactoristics in fruit flies, or a mutating virus, but that it's impossible for evolution to change things to
      • The funny thing is, they have been proven wrong. Look at dogs and wolves. Or a much better example. If you take a certain species of squirrel from Pennsylvania and mate it with one in Ohio, fertile offspring will be produced. Take this same squirrel and mate it with one of the same species from California and no fertile offspring will be produced. This species is literally on the border of speciation and there are plenty of other species of animals to reference as well. Unfortunately I can't think of the sq
        • And exactly how does this prove macro evolution? All it proves is that if there is sufficient genetic difference between two species, even if reproduction is possible, the offspring may be unfertile.

          So unless there is evidence to indicate that these two sub-species of squirrels acquired these genetic differences that prevent successful inter-breeding in recent recorded history, this does not prove macro-evolution.

          Man has been inter-breeding animals between different species for thousands of years (Eg: mules
          • Erm, right.

            There are various criteria by which you can judge what constitutes a species, and to be honest it does get slightly woolly round the edges, but one good rule of thumb is that if two animals can mate to produce fertile offspring, they're both of the same species. A horse and a donkey can produce a mule, which is infertile. Likewise, these two squirrels cannot produce fertile offspring. Therefore it could be argued that by this measure, they are two different species, even though at first glance
            • There are various criteria by which you can judge what constitutes a species

              Which is exactly why it's retarded to act like evolution gives a damn whether it happens "in kinds"
              or not. This topic seems to come up [slashdot.org] every time a vaguely genetic story hits the front page.

              Where's the -1, Pseudoscience mod?
            • A horse and a donkey can produce a mule, which is infertile.

              Not always. Occasionally, a female mule is fertile. Which just goes to show that things are even woolier than one might expect.

              So far, I've not heard of a definition of species that is inclusive of everything we like to think of as different species, while exclusive of everything we'd like to think of as the same species.

              Which just means we need to work on definitions a bit more. Every time a Creationist points out an exception, he's pointing

        • If you take a certain species of squirrel from Pennsylvania and mate it with one in Ohio, fertile offspring will be produced. Take this same squirrel and mate it with one of the same species from California and no fertile offspring will be produced.

          Actually, this might not be a transitional state. It could be a long-term stable state. If conditions vary continuously across a species' range, local populations could all be well adapted to local conditions. Widely-separated populations could be very differen
      • A portion of the creationists (I use this henceforth to refer to everyone who beleives in some sort of ID nonsense) came up with "Micro" and "Macro" evolution to compensate for this.

        What is amazing is that such people can compartmentalize evolution in this way and do so in a poor attempt to defend their unsupported beliefs.

        When I build a computer programme, I do it a handful of lines at a time until the program is complete. Sometimes I even modify existing lines and others I cannibalize code I already h

    • Where did you get this idea that ID supporters do not believe in micro-evolution? What ID supporters do not believe is macro evolution such as reptiles gaining wings to become birds, ape becoming man etc.

      Micro-evolution, hybrids etc are all considered perfectly valid by IDers.
      • by aug24 (38229) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:30AM (#14308186) Homepage
        Sadly nobody but IDers claim a difference between micro and macro evolution. In fact, they are the only people who use those words.

        Apparently for them, a journey of a thousand miles does not start with a single step. It can only be achieved by some kind of magician with a pair of seven-league boots.

        Justin.
        • Er. Actually, micro- and macro-evolution are scientific concepts that predate this iteration of creationism significantly. They're not from ID any more than the term ubermensch came from the Nazis; it's just that it was an isolated concept which was brought to prevalence in a twisted form for political reasons. Micro-evolution is in fact a very real concept in the sciences. It's simply that because micro-evolution can be observed directly, the ID people knew they couldn't deny it directly, and have chos
          • Indeed. Agreed. My (professional) biologist friends tend to refer to speciation rather than macroevolution though (this may be a Brit thing or there may be some distinction which escapes me), and in my experience the first people to introduce the supposed difference in any given debate are always creationists.

            When I used the term IDers, I really meant all believers in all forms of creationism, as I think they are actually the same (as demonstrated by the discovery in the Dover trial that the phrase 'sc

            • Speciation is the result of macroevolution. People have a tendency to think of evolution as a one-directional thing; I often retreat to old Jack Kirby comic books, where there was a character with a ray-gun who would evolve you on the spot to the highest peak of your particular genetic code. Problem is, evolution doesn't work that way. It's a cluster of small changes which eventually find complimentary locusses and adaptive maxima which can successfully exploit their environment.

              Consider the relatively s
              • I had time over Christmas to chat to a few people, make sure I had got the right end of the stick. Some of was over port after midnight on New Year's Eve - hope yours was as much fun!

                I do not accept that speciation is the result of 'macro-evolution', just evolution. In your example, sympatrism (never knew the correct word for it, but very familiar with the idea) does not require any thing more than ordinary genetic drift and selection pressure - ie evolution.

                Suppose, with these mythical octopuses, there a
      • There is no such thing as "macro-evolution". All evolution is "micro". i.e. small changes over time. After several thousand or million of the "micro" evolutionary mutations, you compare back to the original and you see a whole different "species". A new species isn't formed from a single mutation... only after millions such "micro" changes does a different species from the original emerge.

        The whole term "macro-evolution" was invented by creationists to try to desperately hold on to their "god-of-the-g

        • Thinking creationists (I know, an oxymoron)

          Well fuck, I know I'll be modded to oblivion for this, but goddammit does this thinking kill me. Something like 80-90% of the population of the United States (and probably similarly around the world) believe in a creator or a higher power. Even if the believe is that all this creator did was to touch off evolution, there is still a creator (so the belief goes.)

          The kind of thinking that the Slashdot crowd proports, basically categorizing everyone who believe

          • I meant "creationists" in the 6-day creation, 6000+- year old earth sense... and I take back not one word.

            Which is what the discussion was about... how Creationists "evolved" (pardon the pun) into "Intelligent Design" proponents.

            The raw facts in front of them forced THINKING creationists to re-evaluate their thoughts on the origins of life....to realize that Genesis was an allegory - not literal fact. If there was a Noah, he surely didn't have two of EVERY species on his little boat. THINKING individu

            • Intelligent Design is for those who are intelligent enough to understand science, but cannot conceive... cannot accept ... the possibility that this life is all there is. They NEED there to be an afterlife.. somewhere to go when they die.. because the alternative - that our consciousness ceases to exist when we die - is too much for them to handle. ...... If you're an Intelligent Design proponent... well, you're halfway on your way to accepting reality.

              Perhaps it is you who is worthy of pity. People like

    • I love your suggestion!
    • I won't speak for the ID folks, but those of us who believe that God created life believe that he created that life to adapt; rapid speciation and evolution species is an integral part of believing that God started life.

      What we don't believe is that life came out of nowhere. Evolution does not attempt to explain how life began, it only explains how life adapts.

      That said, your post is 100% flamebait. Sure, let's kill off the poor, the less educated, and the conservatives. Let's move on towards a more progres
      • those of us who believe that God created life believe that he created that life to adapt
        I'm often amazed by the way religious people often feel that they can speak for all religious people as if religiousness was something completely homogeneous. I'm willing to bet that if we took a poll of people who believe that God created life and asked them what purpose he had in mind when He created it you'd find less than 1% offering "to adapt" in the top three reasons.
        • Oh, my fault, it was a generalized statement.

          I think you misunderstood my earlier post though. I'm not saying God created life for the sole purpose of adapting and evolving. I believe that God created life with the ability to adapt and evolve. If one really does believe God created life, it would only make sense that the created life would be able to adapt in order to survive; otherwise all life would eventually die out, rendering the creation of life meaningless.
  • Mitochondrial DNA! (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:34AM (#14306441) Homepage Journal
    The title is somewhat misleading as it should be noted that mitochondrial DNA is not genomic DNA from a cells nucleus. It is a much smaller genome from the mitochondrion that evolutionarily is thought to be descended from bacteria and is much easier to sequence from a total work perspective. Although the information that can be extracted from the analysis of mitochondrial DNA can be more informative as to lineage and evolutionary cladistics.

    Come on folks, this is junior high biology.....

    • Or the fifth. One of them, anyway. I'm pretty sure I submitted the title with mtDNA, not just DNA, but I could have missed that off. Either way, the paragraph of text does specify that it is mitochondrial DNA (which is still DNA - not my fault if someone else thinks nucleic).
      • by BWJones (18351) *
        Perhaps I am a little slow on the uptake, but I just realized that we are all simple pawns in the evil scheme of the Slashdot editors. We submit articles for publication on Slashdot, the editors screw with our submission to get all of us all fired about how crummy the editing is, or how stupid we think the submitters are or merely to pontificate on how smart we think we happen to be. But here is the deal.....it all drives traffic . Sometimes I feel so stupid......why did I not see this before? :-)
    • It is good to see that you do not feel strongly about this!

      --

      The Best Damn IRC Search Engine [ircdig.com]
    • yes. Although it should be noted that the mtDNA comes solely from the mother (like Y chromosome comes solely from the father) so it is much better than regular DNA for comparing lineage.

      I think I saw an article a couple days ago postulating on resurrecting a Wolly Mammoth based on the mtDNA sequencing...

    • Although the information that can be extracted from the analysis of mitochondrial DNA can be more informative as to lineage and evolutionary cladistics.

      Sentence fragment.

      Come on folks, this is junior high biology.....

      And that was grade school English. ;-)
    • Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA in mitochondria, organelles that live in all the cells in your body. Mitochondria reproduce asexually, separately from the rest of your cell. The mitochondria in your body come from your mother (the egg cell from which you came had mitochondria from your mother, and they reproduced as you gained new cells).

      Since they reproduce asexually, your mitochondria should be identical to those of your mother, barring mutation. This is what lets them trace lineages so well with mitochon
    • Lives of the Cell (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tony (765)
      This is described beautifully by Lewis Thomas in his essay, "Lives of the Cell." In it, he points out that complex cells are like carriers for bacteria-- in plants, the chloroplasts; and in animals, the mitochondira. We're just a fancy car to tote around and protect billions of bacteria (not even including the free bacteria in our bellies). The energy they produce (chloroplasts) and release (mitochondria) drive all other life. It's like we're just evolutionary curliques to move forward the evolution of bact
    • "Come on folks, this is junior high biology....." Yes it is but there is a high possability that many of the people posting these misinformed comments have not yet entered junior high school. After all kids are all on Winter break now. You really can't blame a 10 year old for not understanding 8th grade science.
    • The article said they were retrieved the mitochondria from bone fragments (so I presume vessels inside the bone must offer effective protection from corruption). I know, however, there have been several cases of frozen mammoth remains being retrieved, including the discovery of a [royalbcmuseum.bc.ca] whole or nearly whole [trussel.com] mammoth found buried in the ice in Siberia 6-7 years ago.

      As others have noted, mitochondria can be useful for looking at lineage but that's a tiny piece of their genetic info. Ever since the blurb in the pa
  • by FalconZero (607567) * <FalconZero&Gmail,com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:35AM (#14306443)
    Contrary to the title, the Wooly Mammoth DNA has not been fully sequenced. The Mitochondrial DNA [wikipedia.org] has, but that's nowhere near the amount of DNA in the neucleus. So don't worry, we won't be seeing Jurasic park any time soon.
  • Embryos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not sure if mammuth sperm [wikipedia.org] would be capable to fertilise elephants.. but could they produce embryos [wikipedia.org] from the dna, and ultimately make those sweet hairy babies with asian elephants?

    I wanna have my Furry Park!
    • Re:Embryos (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Caydel (851013)
      I was reading about that this morning. It would take apparently nearly 50 years to get an 88% mammoth if they could do this. Problem is, they have not found any wolly mammoth sperm from which they could obtain the needed DNA.
  • ...what about the owlbear? Is it the ancestor of both owls and bears, or the missing link between the two?
  • Remember the plot... somehow they used the DNA sequence of existing lizards and filled in the new sequence to fertilize Dianosaur egg.
    :-) I think the scientists must be trying to regenerate a Mammoth out of a current age elephant.
  • by bluethundr (562578) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:54AM (#14306564) Homepage Journal
    Instead of the word pony, you'll hear the whiney phrase "Mommy, Daddy, can I have a fully sequenced Woolly Mammoth for Christmas?"
  • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:07AM (#14306841) Journal
    as intelligently designed by an intelligent designer, according to the Kansas School Board.
  • by wizardguy (245100) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:07AM (#14306842)
    How much is the Mitochondrial Count ? Is it higher than Yoda ? Is it higher than Anakin ?

    So the force is strong in him but I sense great fear in the Woolly Mammoth , and fear leads to extinction.
  • Relief (Score:5, Funny)

    by eniu!uine (317250) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:19AM (#14306877)
    What a relief. This will bring us one step closer to our goal of identifying mammoth diseases before we lose any treatment options. My prediction: Due to this new research not a single mammoth will die in 2006.

  • by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:21AM (#14306888) Homepage
    would it take to store a human genome's worth of DNA? Are we talking sub-gig if we use SVCD or divx-like encoding?
    • Re:How many bytes... (Score:2, Informative)

      by indrax (939495)
      The human genome will fit on a CD.
      You can download [gutenberg.org] The human genome project files from project gutenberg and see for yourself.
    • would it take to store a human genome's worth of DNA? Are we talking sub-gig if we use SVCD or divx-like encoding?

      I'm pretty sure that using lossey encoding would be a bad thing for storing the human genome.
      • by jd (1658)
        Maybe that explains the origin of accountants. Stone-age man had to use lossy encoding to fit the data onto the side of the cave wall.
  • by Chris Tucker (302549) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:51AM (#14306982) Homepage
    Original Recipe Flintstones(TM) Wooly Mammoth ribs!

    Mmmmmmm........ ribs!
  • Right. It's not exactly Jurassic Park, nut good enough for me. When does the mammoth theme park open?
  • We have preserved mamoths, and we have elephants that can be artificially inseminated. Now I've heard that just to produce a cloned cat or dog still takes dozens or hundreds of tries, but are researchers close to reducing that number? How soon until mastodons can be reborn and live at a zoo or preserve in Vancouver or Anchorage?
  • Since we now know how to build a mammoth, the question becomes "how do we DO it?" The trick at this point appears to be to reverse the previous process we just completed... to take a known sequence as a map and to produce intact strands of DNA that corresponds to that sequence. Once that is completed, we already have the technology to place other DNA in an egg and then we can grow our first mammoth!

    So, how goes the gene de-sequencing?
  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:26AM (#14308629) Homepage Journal
    The headline shouted "DNA of Woolly Mammoth Fully Sequenced", but then we read "Scientists have decoded the mitochondrial DNA".

    So the headline was almost totally incorrect and misleading. The mtDNA is typically about 0.1% of a mammal's total DNA. Sequencing the mtDNA is only about 1000th of "fully sequenced". They have a long, long way to go before a "fully sequenced" claim can be made.

    Their achievement is newsworthy enough by itself. There's no reason to exaggerate it so wildly.

  • THe title is completely misleading. Right in the summary it says .."decoded the mitochondrial DNA of..." mitochondrial DNA is a very small repcentage of the total. Whouldn't it be great if slashdot implemented some kind of bullshit filter.

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