Quirks and Quarks

Blueprint for a Woolly Mammoth

Scientists reconstruct the complete genome from frozen mammoth remains

The genome of the woolly mammoth has been decoded

Artist's impression of Woolly Mammoths (Mauricio Antón)
The giant, hairy elephants that used to roam the grasslands of the Arctic have been extinct for thousands of years, but thanks to DNA preserved in permafrost, the genome of the Woolly Mammoth lives again. 

Dr. Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist and Director of the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, and colleagues extracted DNA from the remains of two mammoths, one 45,000 years old, and one only 4000 years old. 

Careful analysis of the DNA has allowed them to understand how mammoth populations waxed and waned through history, before their ultimate extinction.  Dr. Poinar suggests that having the genetic sequence does mean, at least in theory, that bringing the mammoth back could be possible.

Related Links

- Paper in Current Biology
- McMaster University release
CBC News story
- BBC News story
- Globe and Mail story