Genetic Mutations Caused The Final Meltdown Of The Last Woolly Mammoths?

By Jeff Thompson - 03 Mar '17 09:14AM

It has always been an enigma for the people what caused the extinction of mammoths from the earth. The big creatures of the Ice Age were considered to be the symbol of the different species that have disappeared from the earth. A new study suggests the possibility of unfavorable genetic mutations in the last set of woolly mammoths.

Woolly mammoths were a particular species within mammoths which became extinct from the earth almost 4,000 years ago. The mammoths have the closest relation to Asian elephants, and it ruled the grasslands in North America, Asia, and Africa during the Ice Age.

But, when the climate started changing 12,000 years ago, it started losing its food as mossy tundra replaced grasslands and lack of water. The mammoths isolated to the Arctic region and the last skeletons of woolly mammoths found in Wrangel Island was 4,000 years old and from St. Paul Island was 5,600 years old.

Rebekah Rogers, a biologist at Montgomery Slatkin of the University of California, studied the DNA sequence of the mammoth bone from Wrangel with the mammoths which lived on Siberian mainland 45,000 years ago. The research showed that these Wrangel mammoths have gone through a number of unfavorable genetic mutations in the final years.

One such mutation removed the olfactory receptors that helped it to detect the smell. Another set of mutations reduced the variety and number of urinary proteins. These changes altogether are expected to have reduced the ability of the animal to determine territory and choose mates among others.

Another set of mutations to a gene called FOXQ1, which is studied in rabbits and rodents, would have given a semi-transparent and soft skin to the mammoth, the same has created gastric irritation in mice during mutation. Altogether, the isolation of species and genetic mutation could have completely removed the species from the earth. The study is also confirming the theory of genetic mutations that favorable mutations help to survive species and harmful ones eliminate the species from the earth.

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