A new study published in the journal Cell has revealed that the genomes were responsible for the growth of hair and skin to withstand the cold during the ice age. Each letter of the genomes from the mammoths were studied 20 times to make the results as accurate as possible.
Researchers compared the genome of two mammoths found in northeastern Siberia about 18,500 to 60,000 years old with the genome of three modern-day Asian elephants and one African elephant. Certain patterns of fat metabolism as well as insulin were discovered, for living in freezing temperatures. Geneticist Vincent Lynch from the University of Chicago said that the mammoths had preprocessing changes involved with the skin surface and hair formation.
TRPV3, one of the proteins found in the genome aided in temperature sensation, growth of hair and storing body fat. This genome underwent mutation in mammoths, which might have given them the ability to survive in the ice age. While the genome gave several abilities for survival in the cold weather, the genome also provided them with small ears, short tails and a specific head shape.
The new study could help researchers to further study woolly mammoths as they are closely related to the present day elephants. Most of the genomes from mammoths are either incomplete or full of errors, and the genomes of the living creatures also decay very quickly. Scientists are keen to study the morphological evolution as the present day elephants have none of the traits of the woolly mammoths.
This analysis could give researchers an insight into the evolution. If this could help the researchers to fill in the missing genome, and bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction. However, it is unlikely that the mammoth will be resurrected even if it is possible in the future.
The genetic research has been published in the journal ‘Cell Reports’, with the title ‘Elephantid Genomes Reveal the Molecular Bases of Woolly Mammoth Adaptations to the Arctic.’